Five killed in crash of tour helicopter on Hawaiian island

LIHUE, Hawaii -- A tour helicopter crashed Wednesday into a mountain on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, killing all five people on board, authorities said.

The wreckage was spotted around noon at about 4,300 feet on Mount Waialeale, police said. The chopper went down in a crater on the peak's eastern face known as the rainiest spot on earth.

Four victims died in the crash, authorities said. The fifth, a woman, died hours later as rescue crews tried to have her airlifted from the site. No victims' names were released.

The Bell 206B helicopter was three hours late in returning from an hour-long sightseeing trip on Kauai, which is west of Oahu in the island chain, said Donn Walker, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Los Angeles. The chopper left Lihue at 8:03 a.m.

The FAA said the cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. Officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive on Kauai as early as Wednesday afternoon to investigate.

Donn said the pilot had been given a weather briefing from the FAA, with no adverse conditions noted.

Officials said the aircraft, built in 1975, was owned by Jack Harter Helicopters. The chopper service's ad in the Yellow Pages says that it has a "perfect safety record."

The pilot was required to file a flight plan with the helicopter service, but the company did not immediately say whether such paperwork was received. No flight plan was required by the FAA.

It was the second fatal helicopter crash in Hawaii in six weeks. On June 15, a sightseeing helicopter crashed on Hawaii's Big Island near the Kilauea Volcano, killing four people.

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