HONOLULU — The wreckage of a tour helicopter that went missing Thursday evening with seven people on board has been found and six bodies have been recovered, the County of Kauai said late Friday afternoon.
The crash site was has been confirmed in Koke‘e near Nu‘alolo Ridge Trail and Milolii Ridge Road.
The Kauai Fire Department suspended its search for the final missing person at 3:30 p.m. due to fog and poor visibility and it would resume the search Saturday.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these passengers,” said Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami. “Operations continue and we are doing everything we can at this time.”
At approximately 6 p.m. Thursday, officials were notified of an overdue Safari Helicopter that was conducting a tour over the Nā Pali area. The helicopter was scheduled to arrive around 5:30 p.m. at the Līhu‘e landing pad. According to a preliminary report, the last contact with the helicopter was made at approximately 4:40 p.m., when the pilot relayed that the tour was leaving the Waimea Canyon area.
The Coast Guard, working with partners, established an incident command post on Kauai in response to the missing commercial helicopter, Friday.
Upon notification, just after 6 p.m. Thursday of the overdue Safari Helicopter, Coast Guard watchstanders at JRCC Honolulu initiated an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, launched a Coast Guard Dolphin aircrew, contacted DoD for HSM-37 Seahawk support, and launched the William Hart.
Kauai Fire Department was contacted and is coordinating ground searches of the shoreline. Barking Sands Security also organized ATV searches of the coastline.
The Dolphin helicopter crew conducted three search patterns for the evening along the northwest portion of Kauai. The HSM-37 Seahawk crew flew a five-hour search of the northwest shoreline area.
Winds, rain and clouds hindered searchers.
While many have wondered about weather conditions at the time of the crash, authorities said that is something they could not confirm.