Video interviews with Kilohana Principal Richard Stevens and a witness of today’s crash
A sightseeing helicopter crashed in east Molokai this afternoon near Kilohana Elementary School.
Maui Police and Fire Rescue confirmed that five people, including the pilot from Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours, were killed in the crash around noontime.
Gusting winds and intermittent heavy rain showers may have contributed to the crash, although an official investigation into the cause has not yet begun.
According to Richard Stevens, principal at Kilohana, the school’s health aid came to him at 12:15 p.m., after calling 911, to tell him she had just seen the helicopter crash into the ridge line.
The crash site is approximately half a mile northwest of the school through rugged and rain-soaked mountain terrain. A recovery staging area was set up in front of Kilohana, but as of 3 p.m. no bodies had yet been removed from the crash site.
Maui County Fire Department officials told Stevens that the students were not in immediate danger so school continued as normal.
“The only challenge will be to make sure to keep the kids away from all the helicopters and fire trucks,” said Stevens.
An East End resident, Kumu (no last name given), witnessed the crash.
“A big rain, a big front, came out of nowhere,” said Kumu. “We took cover, it looked like something going down, a big light, a big explosion. I heard a big noise that sounded like a chopper, I looked down and I seen it hit; saw a big red explosion, big smoke, and I knew it was a chopper. We went up to look and we seen it.”
No names have been released pending notification of the family.