Copter crashes; pilot hospitalized

Jonathon D’Attilio, a helicopter pilot with InterIsland Helicopters, is in critical condition at Wilcox Memorial Hospital after crashing Sunday while helping Kaua’i Fire Department firefighters battle a stubborn brush fire in Kapaia Valley behind Sun Village apartments near Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

D’Attilio’s craft apparently landed upside down in De Mello Reservoir, also known as Tanaka Pond, mauka of Lihu’e, yesterday evening while he was attempting to fill a bucket with water to help douse the fire.

He was the only person on board.

D’Attilio had just left the parking lot at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he rendezvoused with Kaua’i Fire Department officials to hook the bucket up to the helicopter he was flying.

It is not known how or if D’Attilio is related to Ken D’Attilio, owner of Inter-Island Helicopters. Ken D’Attilio was to arrive on the island yesterday, and could not be reached for comment.

Pilots at Inter-Island Helicopters continued flying tours yesterday, with other available aircraft.

Reports of the helicopter crash at De Mello Reservoir were phoned in to Kaua’i Police Department dispatchers at around 6 p.m., shortly after D’Attilio’s departure from the Wilcox Memorial Hospital parking lot.

KFD Battalion Chief Bill Quinlan and rescue specialists from the KPD Lihu’e fire station immediately responded, according to Mary Daubert, county public information officer.

Quinlan, who arrived in a separate vehicle, was first on the scene. He jumped in the reservoir upon his arrival, pulled D’Attilio from the wreckage, and was assisted by KFD rescue specialists.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed on D’Attilio by rescue specialists and emergency medical technicians with an American Medical Response ambulance unit while en route to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

The Kapaia Valley brush fire continued to burn slowly Sunday, consuming approximately three to five acres, Daubert said.

The fire started at about 3 p.m. at the bottom of the valley, and was considered under control by 6:45 p.m.

Earlier, elderly residents of two buildings and the recreation center of the nearby Sun Village condominium complex were evacuated due to excessive smoke from the fire, and allowed to return after about an hour, said Daubert.

The cause of the fire and the helicopter crash are under investigation, she added.

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