Joliet couple survive helicopter crash after the pilot passes out
Pair visiting Hawaii help rescue flyer after splashdown
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.