Chopper goes down on Na Pali Coast

LIHUE — A helicopter carrying a crew from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources went down on Na Pali Coast Thursday afternoon, prompting state officials to close down the entire Kalalau Trail indefinitely.

The three occupants were apparently uninjured or suffered minor injuries.

“We were conducting park maintenance and in the course of park maintenance, the chartered helicopter had an accident,” DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said.

County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said the county helicopter, Air 1, was responding to an injured hiker in Kalalau Valley Thursday afternoon, when the pilot heard of an incident nearby.

“They did a check of the area and located the pilot and two passengers with minor injuries,” she said. “All four individuals were then airlifted out of the valley.”

Ward said the accident remains under investigation, and more information could be available today.

“About all I can say is that pending investigation, we are closing the Kalalau Trail effective immediately,” she said.

A DLNR press release sent at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday states the pilot and two passengers were taken to the hospital, but were uninjured.

No further details about the condition of the crew was available by press time.

“The park is closed in order to preserve the location of the accident pending investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board,” the release states.

Ward said DLNR has the contact information for those holding a camping permit, and will notify them of the trail closure and issue full refunds.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com

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