Tourists visiting the Arizona Memorial Center in Pearl Harbor Thursday morning, February 18th, were witnesses to a shocking event. A tour guide, Chris G., remembers immediately knowing something was wrong when he heard a helicopter approach and go into auto rotation. Loud bangs from the chopper caught the attention of other tourists in the area and people watched in shock as a helicopter carrying four passengers approached the memorial and crashed into the waters just beyond the land.
Good Samaritan Tourists Jump Into Action
Immediately following the crash, Chris and several other men ran to the water and swam out to help the people trapped inside. Eyewitnesses saw three people jump from the helicopter and swim to shore before it sunk completely, but a 15-year-old boy was trapped inside by the helicopter seatbelt. The swimmers took turns diving down with a knife to cut the boy out of the helicopter and he was transferred to the Pali Momi Medical Center in critical condition. Two other passengers, a 45-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man were also taken to Pali Momi, but in stable condition. The pilot and another man were taken to Kaiser.
Helicopter Owner Comments
The owner of Genesis Aviation and the Bell-206B chopper that was involved in the crash offered sincere condolences to the families affected by the tragedy. He also commented on his pilot’s years of flight experience (even experience flying for the Army) and believes that his pilot was attempting to set the chopper down on land before the helicopter completely cut out.
Arizona Memorial Closure & Suspensions
Videos of the chopper crash went viral soon after the accident. They show the helicopter approaching at a low awkward angle before plunging into the water just beyond the Contemplation Circle at the visitor’s center. Until further notice, theater and boat trips to the Arizona Memorial are suspended.