There is much that we know about Thursday’s helicopter crash that claimed seven lives on Kauai.
We know it was a tragedy and it has left many broken hearts behind.
We know the pilot, 69-year-old Paul Matero of Wailua, was a man who was loved by many and was good at what he did.
We know that two of the passengers, 47-year-old Amy Gannon and 13-year-old Jocelyn Gannon of Wisconsin, were also loved by many and they are missed.
We know that the other four passengers are believed to be a family from Switzerland — a 50-year-old female, 49-year-old male, 13-year-old female and a 10-year old female. Their names have not yet been released.
We know that the helicopter was scheduled to arrive around 5:30 p.m. at the Lihue landing pad. According to a preliminary report, the last contact with the helicopter was made about 4:40 p.m., when the pilot relayed that the tour was leaving the Waimea Canyon area.
We know that the Safari helicopter went down late Thursday afternoon in Koke‘e near steep, remote terrain between Miloli‘i Ridge Road and Nu‘alolo Trail.
We know there was no distress call and that the aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, but no signals were received.
We know searchers did their best to find the crash site and found it as quickly as could be expected.
There is also much that we don’t know.
The details of what happened, and why, may be a long-time coming. Or, it could be we will never know for certain what happened, such was the severity of the crash site. We will not speculate here as to the cause.
However, many people have expressed their views, in social media, about the accident and what could have caused it. Many have expressed concerns about the safety of the helicopter tourism industry in general.
Certainly, such a tragic accident opens the doors for analysis and review. Such accidents always do. It could be that people have the best of intentions in expressing their views on this situation in hopes that they might help prevent future tragedies. We would all like to know what happened so we also do our best to prevent it from happening again.
Unfortunately, there are some who are quick to criticize those they believe are at fault, share their thoughts on who might have made a mistake. They want someone held accountable. Some of their comments valid. Some are not helpful. Now, we’re not saying everyone should only offer helpful comments. We are not saying they can’t ask questions. When lives are lost, we can’t be afraid to speak up to learn all to improve safety.
All that said, what we would recommend is that everyone stop speculating and guessing and posting opinions, and we let the investigators do their job, trust they will do it well, and perhaps we will learn what happened, and why and move forward.
We must also always remember that those who lost their lives were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We must treat them, and their families, with courtesy and respect, just as we would like to be treated. Right now, what these grieving family members need is our understanding, our comfort and our prayers.