USCG Searching for Missing Tour Helicopter
The Coast Guard is searching for seven people overdue aboard a tour helicopter on Kauai, Thursday.
"The weather conditions are challenging. We have trained crews responding and on scene searching for any signs of the helicopter and those aboard," said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu.
The owner of an overdue tour helicopter contacted watchstanders at JRCC Honolulu at 6:06 p.m. They stated the aircraft was due back at 5:21 p.m. from a tour of Kauai's Napali Coast with one pilot and six passengers. Two of the six passengers are reportedly minors. The aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, but no signals have been received.
The watchstanders directed the launch of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, currently on scene searching, and coordinated for additional support from the U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 at Kaneohe Bay for just after midnight. They also directed the launch of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) and crew from homeport in Honolulu.
Further searches are scheduled with a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane and crew and a fresh Dolphin helicopter crew at first light if needed.
Weather on scene is reportedly 4 miles visibility due to clouds and rain. Winds are at 28 mph. Friday's forecast predicts continued winds around 23 mph with wind waves at 6 feet and scattered rain showers.
Nearly 80 percent of Kauai is uninhabited, and much of that is a state park. Kauai's natural beauty is accessed or viewed daily by visitors aboard helicopters from several tour companies depending on the weather. Common points of interest include Jurassic Park Falls, the Hanapepe Valley, Waimea Canyon, the Nā Pali Coast, the Hanalei Valley, and Mt. Waialeale.