Safari Helicopters releases written statement on fatal tour helicopter crash

Local News

Courtesy USCG Hawaii Pacific

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kauai police say the pilot and two passengers on board the helicopter that crashed Thursday on Kauai have been preliminarily identified, according to the flight manifest.

According to preliminary reports, Kauai police believe the pilot to be 69-year-old Paul Matero of Wailua and two of the passengers to be 47-year-old Amy Gannon and 13-year-old Jocelyn Gannon of Wisconsin.

The four other passengers are believed to be a family from Switzerland, however, their identities have not yet been released at this time.

Autopsies to positively confirm all identities are still pending.

Some of the remains of the individuals were recovered Friday afternoon at the site of the helicopter wreckage in Kōke’e near steep, remote terrain between Milolii Ridge Road and Nualolo Trail.

Recovery efforts were suspended on Friday afternoon due to inclement weather and resumed Saturday morning. Operations are currently being conducted by the Kaua’i Fire Department’s Rescue, Air 1, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Kauai Police Department.

Life’s Bridges, a grief-counseling agency, the American Red Cross and the Kauai Visitors Bureau have been assisting the victims’ families.

Safari Helicopter Tours company released the following statement.

The Safari Helicopter family, along with the broader community, mourn the loss of seven lives that were on Thursday’s sightseeing flight. We mourn with the family members of those who were lost in this tragic accident. Among those lost is our Chief Pilot, Paul Matero. Paul was a seasoned member of our team with 12 years of experience on Kauai.

We would like to extend our appreciation to the members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Hawaii Fire Department, and many colleagues in the helicopter community who volunteered their time in the search operations.

Safari is fully cooperating with the NTSB and the FAA to determine the cause of Thursday’s crash. Safari is a family-owned and operated, and we are proud to have participated in the development of the helicopter industry since 1987. Our prayers and love go out to all that are affected by this tragedy.

Officials say six out of seven sets of remains were found on Friday. One set of remains is still missing.

The crash happened in Kokee on Kauai on Thursday, December 26, 2019.

The flight was scheduled to return at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported that it is sending three investigators to investigate.

Search efforts were stopped around 3:15 p.m. Friday due to poor visibility and fog.

Families of the crash victims who gathered at Safari Helicopters requested privacy on Friday.

Stay with KHON2 and for more details.

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