Helicopter pilot says not guilty

LIHU’E — The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in September, leaving three visitors dead, pleaded not guilty yesterday to manslaughter and other charges associated with the accident.

Glen Lampton appeared before Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge George Masuoka to enter his plea to three counts of manslaughter, two counts of reckless endangering, one count of falsifying records, and one count of tampering with evidence.

Masuoka set a July 24 jury trial.

Honolulu attorney Sam King Jr. said in court that Lampton lives in Las Vegas.

King and Lampton did not comment about the charges after the arraignment hearing.

Lampton was booked at Kaua’i Police Department headquarters. He was released after posting $100,000 bail.

Lampton, 44, is accused of recklessly causing the deaths of two visitors from Portland, Maine, and a visitor from Beloit, Wis.

Lampton is accused of allegedly recklessly endangering the lives of two visitors from Beloit, Wis., who survived the crash off Ha’ena Point on the North Shore in September 2005.

Lampton faces a charge of misleading Dave Ryon of the Federal Aviation Administration and Nicole Charnon of the National Transportation Safety Board, for allegedly handing over false records.

He is also accused of tampering with evidence.

Lampton was at the helm of a Heli USA Airways’ flight-seeing helicopter when it went down Sept. 23 off Kaua’i’s North Shore, after running into rough weather.

The helicopter crashed in the ocean several hundred yards off Ke’e Beach near Ha’ena, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report.

Manslaughter is a Class-A felony and carries a maximum time in prison of 20 years.

Reckless endangering, falsifying records, and tampering with evidence are misdemeanor offenses. Each charge carries a maximum time in prison of one year.

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