Tour helicopter crash injures five in Honolulu

By Shawn Price   |   Feb. 18, 2016 at 10:11 PM

HONOLULU, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A tour helicopter crashed Thursday morning in the water near the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, injuring five people, one of whom is in critical condition.

A mix of rescue personnel and bystanders pulled the five people from the downed copter, which was about 10 feet from the shoreline of the visitors center.

A 16-year-old male is in critical condition and a 50-year-old man and 46-year-old woman are both stable, but there conditions are not known. Two others were taken to the hospital by the Federal Fire Department medical crews.

The visitors center has been closed until further notice.

Adventure guide Chris Gardner said he heard an "not much of an engine sound of the rotors" shortly before the crash. Though others were able to free themselves from the crash, Gardner and a federal police officer swam over to rescue the unconscious teen stuck inside the copter. They took turns cutting at the seat belt until the teen was freed.

Australian tourist Amber Moncrieff was at the visitor's center when she heard the crash. She said it was heartwarming to see how people responded after the crash.

"When something bad happens," she said, "so many people will come out and help."

The helicopter is a 1979 Bell Jet Ranger owned by Genesis Aviation, a tour company that takes people over the memorial site and also features a "doors off" helicopter tour.

Federal Aviation Administration investigators are en route and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokeswoman.

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