by: Elizabeth Ufi
HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to Hawaii County officials, a tourism helicopter reportedly crashed in a lava field near South Point on Wednesday.
K&S Helicopters who operates Paradise Helicopters said the incident happened at about 5:29 p.m. while their aircraft, a Bell 407, was operating a tour. Preliminary information said that five passengers and one crew member were onboard.
Officials claimed a 50-year-old male pilot and an 18-year-old female were in serious condition. Four passengers were reported to be ambulatory.
The Hawaii Fire Department stated that ground units were unable to access the crash site which was located a mile from the nearest roadway. A chopper was then sent to the scene to extricate three ambulatory patients from the crash site and take them to ground medic units.
A second chopper arrived on the scene shortly after and extricated the most seriously injured patient to awaiting ground crews and then went back to get another patient in serious condition.
The operation was followed by another patient in critical condition to be transported to the Kona Community Hospital in a chopper.
All remaining patients were taken by fire department units to Kona Community Hospital as well.
K&S Helicopters said they initiated an emergency response plan and the full resources of the company are being mobilized to respond to the incident.
“The care of our passengers, crew members, and their families is our highest priority,” said Calvin Dorn of K&S Helicopters.