HONOLULU (KHON2) — Four people are dead following a helicopter crash Tuesday morning on Kauai. The Pacific Missile Range Facility said the chopper was being operated by civilian contractor “Croman Corporation.”

Thick black smoke could be seen for miles shortly after the crash at Barking Sands 10a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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The Pacific Missile Range Facility confirms “there were four fatalities in the helicopter crash…The helicopter, operated by Croman Corporation, was supporting a training operation. Croman Corporation provides range support services to PMRF.”

The crash is under investigation.

(Courtesy: Lindsie Fratus-Thomas)

Na Pali Riders boat captain Chris Turner was leading a tour about a quarter mile from Barking Sands when the helicopter went down.

“He was carrying a load and nothing out of the ordinary,” Turner explained. “I’ve probably seen those guys at least 500 times cause it’s pretty common for them to do what they do.”

He said it looked like they were getting ready to bring the cartridge down and land when something went wrong.

“Erratically the helicopter made a severe spin to the right and nose down, full blast,” Turner said. “It had gone from where it was up there to hitting the just the other side of the sand dunes there where the runway was to a massive explosion.”

Turner said emergency crews responded quickly because they could see what looked like white foam being sprayed on the crash.

“I’ve waved to those guys before. It really shook me.”

The NTSB said the helicopter that crashed is a Sikorsky S-61N.

Croman Corporation describes themselves as an aerial support and heavy lift expert, with the largest Sikorsky S61 operators.

PMRF at Barking Sands is the world’s largest instrumented, multi-environmental range. They are capable of “supporting surface, subsurface, air and space operations simultaneously”.

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They have a range of more than 1,100 square miles underwater and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.