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@chi­cac­gotri­bune.com 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.

STATE OF HAWAII DLNR

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

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