A tourism helicopter carrying six people crashed in a lava field near South Point on Hawaii’s Big Island, according to Hawaii County officials.
K&S Helicopters, the operator of Paradise Helicopters, said the crash took place Wednesday at about 5:29 p.m. while the aircraft, a Bell 407, was operating a tour. Five passengers and one crew member were believed to be onboard, according to preliminary information
Officials said a 50-year-old male pilot and an 18-year-old female were in serious condition. Four passengers were reported to be ambulatory.
The Hawaii Fire Department said ground units were unable to access the crash site, which was located a mile from the nearest roadway. A helicopter was sent to extricate three ambulatory patients from the crash site and take them to ground medic units.
A second chopper arrived on the scene shortly after, and brought the most seriously injured patient to awaiting ground crews before going back for another patient in serious condition. Yet another patient in critical condition was transported to the Kona Community Hospital in a chopper.
All remaining patients were taken by fire department units to Kona Community Hospital as well.
K&S Helicopters said they initiated an emergency response plan. The full resources of the company had been mobilized to respond to the incident, according to K&S.
“The care of our passengers, crew members, and their families is our highest priority,” said Calvin Dorn of K&S Helicopters.