Six people slightly injured when tour helicopter crashes on Catalina Island
LOS ANGELES – Federal aviation investigators had no clue Tuesday as to why a helicopter carrying six tourists suddenly went down in a remote area of Santa Catalina Island.
Neither the pilot nor the passengers, which included a family of four from Sacramento and a couple from Brazil, were seriously hurt. The pilot declined medical treatment, while the passengers were flown to Torrance Memorial Medical Center on the mainland.
”We’re very, very, very happy that there were no serious injuries, and that’s what we were worried about,” said John Moore, owner of Island Express Helicopter Service. ”Everybody is fine.”
There was no immediate word on why the helicopter was forced down, and National Transportation Safety Board investigators weren’t scheduled to begin examining the wreckage until Wednesday.
”We don’t have any indications until we get out there,” said NTSB air safety investigator Tealeye Cornejo.
Moore said the helicopter landed successfully in a ravine but tipped over when it struck a hillside.
”Everything would have been fine except there just happened to be a little ridge there. The helicopter went into it and tipped over,” he said. ”If it hadn’t tipped over, I don’t even think anybody would have been hurt.”
Four people were released from the medical center Tuesday after being treated for scrapes, but a 43-year-old Brazilian woman and a 13-year-old Sacramento boy were held for observation, said hospital spokeswoman Kelly Curtis. They were in fair condition Tuesday night, she said.
The French-made Aerospatiale helicopter took off from Long Beach before picking up the tourists on the island 26 miles south of the mainland, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kirsti Dunn.
The tour left at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday and was scheduled to return 20 minutes later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported. The helicopter went down four miles south of the Isthmus and was found shortly after noon.
The NTSB expected to remove the helicopter Wednesday once its investigation of the scene is complete.