Joliet cou­ple sur­vive helicopter crash af­ter the pi­lot passes out

Pair vis­it­ing Hawaii help res­cue flyer af­ter splash­down

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - News - By Angie Leven­tis Lour­gos eleven­tis@chi­cac­gotri­ Twit­ter @ang­ie_leven­tis

From a thou­sand feet in the air, the Hawai­ian is­landswere breath­tak­ing.

Carli McConaughy and Adam Bar­nett of Joliet took a helicopter tour on Mon­day while on va­ca­tion in­Honolulu, two days af­ter get­ting en­gaged while hik­ing theManoa Falls Trail.

At the pi­lot’s sug­ges­tion, both glanced to their left to get a glimpse of the site where the clas­sic tele­vi­sion show Gil­li­gan’s Is­land was filmed decades ago, off the coast of Oahu.

“It was the most beau­ti­ful thing we’ve ever seen,” saidMcConaughy, 35.

Sud­denly the pi­lot’s head be­gan bob­bing and his body slumped over next to McConaughy, who was in the pas­sen­ger seat. Bar­nett, 31, be­gan shak­ing him fromthe the back seat, yelling at his fi­ance to “pull it up,” fran­ti­cally mo­tion­ing to the cyclic con­trol in the cen­ter of the two front seats.

The chop­per rapidly nose­dived. While McConaughy had no prior flight train­ing, she said she grabbed the con­trol and pulled, likely slow­ing the de­cent and crash into the ocean.

“We hit the wa­ter hard,” she said. “I just think it­was the best­waywe could have crashed. We all sur­vived.”

She said her fi­ance was able to pull her and the pi­lot out of the helicopter, and emer­gency re­spon­ders brought them to shore of Ka­neohe Bay on jet skis.

A Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman con­firmed that a Robin­son R44 helicopter with three peo­ple on board crashed un­der un­known cir­cum­stances in Ka­neohe on the is­land of Oahu, but had no other in­for­ma­tion. The FAA and Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the crash.

The Hon­olulu Star Ad­ver­tiser re­ported aMon­day helicopter crash in Ka­neohe Bay with a 35-year-old fe­male pas­sen­ger and 31year-old male pas­sen­ger. The owner of the helicopter tour com­pany said the 57-year-old pi­lot had suf­fered a med­i­cal con­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

The helicopter wreck­age was air­lifted from waist- deep waters on Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to the Hawaii Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources. The crash site­was on the ocean side of the Ahu O Laka sand­bar, a pop­u­lar spot for boat tours, the depart­ment said in a news re­lease.

“The pi­lot and two pas­sen­gers were se­ri­ously hurt but it’s re­ported none of their in­juries are con­sid­ered life-threat­en­ing,” the news re­lease said.

Bar­nett and McConaughy are now back home in Joliet and heal­ing from their in­juries. McConaughy said she suf­fered a bro­ken bone and toe in one foot, a gash in the other foot and a com­pres­sion frac­ture in her back; she said Bar­nett’s in­juries in­clude a bro­ken arm and he’ll likely need surgery on the area of his wrist. Both are also scratched and bruised.

“We’re just happy to be alive,” she said.


Of­fi­cers from the Hawaii Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources re­cover the wreck­age from the helicopter crash.

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