Pilot dies after crashing helicopter

A 21-year-old helicopter pilot, Jonathan D’Attilio, died at Wilcox Memorial Hospital yesterday, officials said.

He crashed his Inter-Island Helicopters MD 369 into De Mello Reservoir mauka of Lihu’e on Christmas Day, Sunday, Dec. 25, while trying to get water into a bucket to help put out a fire in Kapaia Valley, according to a spokesperson with the County of Kaua’i.

D’Attilio was attempting to fill a bucket of water to bring to help fight a brush fire that earlier forced the evacuation of some units at Sun Village elderly apartments behind Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

An autopsy will be done to help determine the exact cause of death, said Nicole Charnon, air-safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said D’Attilio was the only person aboard the MD 369 aircraft, which was destroyed by the 5:40 p.m. accident.

Kaua’i Fire Department Battalion Chief Bill Quinlan and rescue specialists from the KFD Lihu’e fire station pulled D’Attilio from the wreckage. He was then given cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition on Monday.

There were unconfirmed reports that he was kept alive by life-support equipment on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

D’Attilio worked for Inter-Island Helicopters, owned and operated by Ken D’Attilio, who has a contract to provide search-and-rescue, and firefighting services to KFD leaders.

It is not known how or if Jonathan D’Attilio is related to Ken D’Attilio, who could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday’s brush fire started at around 3 p.m., and burned about 3-5 acres. It was considered under control by 6:45 p.m., county officials said. The cause of the crash is under investigation in a scene similar to one played out only a few months ago, when a Heli USA Airways helicopter with six people aboard crashed into the ocean off Ha’ena Point on the North Shore.

Investigators from the NTSB will dissect what’s left of the Inter-Island Helicopters craft, which was lifted to a Lihu’e Airport hangar.

Kaua’i Police Department dispatchers started getting calls about a helicopter crash at around 6 p.m., according to Mary Daubert, county public information officer.

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