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3 die in Grand Canyon tour helicopter crash; four others injured

3 die in Grand Canyon tour helicopter crash; four others injured
Posted at 5:39 AM, Feb 11, 2018

Rugged terrain and poor conditions hindered the rescue of four survivors of a deadly helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, a police official said.

Three people died when the Papillon Airways EC-130 vessel crashed at approximately 5:20 p.m. (7:20 p.m. ET) Saturday, Police Chief Francis E. Bradley Sr. of the Hualapai reservation said.

The helicopter had been carrying a pilot and six passengers.

Bradley said there were four level 1 trauma patients at the scene of the crash near Quartermaster Canyon, within the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Nation.


First responders had difficulty reaching the four survivors, Bradley said, noting, "It is too windy and it's dark and the area is very rugged."

Rescuers got an assist from military aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and were in the process of evacuating the injured overnight, Bradley said.

Photos of the crash scene showed flames and dark smoke rising from rocky terrain.

Teddy Fujimoto told CNN affiliate KSNV he was in the area taking photographs when he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

"I saw these two ladies run out of it, and then an explosion. One of the survivors...looked all bloody. Her clothes probably were burnt off," Fujimoto told KSNV.

"The ladies were screaming...It was just horrible," he said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer earlier said the aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash.

He did not have other details about the crash.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, Kenitzer said.

Papillon Airways describes itself on its websiteas "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company" and adds that it provides "the only way to tour the Grand Canyon."

The company says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it "abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration."