Helicopter crashes in Grand Canyon, killing 3 tourists

Burning wreckage at the crash site in Arizona.   Teddy Fujimoto via AP

Burning wreckage at the crash site in Arizona. Teddy Fujimoto via AP

The Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters chopper crashed under unknown circumstances Saturday evening on the Hualapai Nation's land by the Grand Canyon's West Rim Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley says navigating the rugged terrain in the dark made it hard for first-responders to reach the helicopter's wreckage.

Francis Bradley, the chief of the local Hualapai Police, said rescue efforts were hampered by "severe weather conditions", including "gusts up to 50 miles per hour".

Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley tells the Arizona Republic that the pilot and three passengers were airlifted to a Las Vegas hospital early Sunday.

Becky Dobson, 27, was on a United States holiday with boyfriend Stuart Hill, 30, and his brother Jason Hill, 32, when they were killed in the helicopter crash at 5.20pm local time on Saturday.

- Four survivors of a tour helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon were being treated at a Nevada hospital Sunday while crews were recovering the bodies of three others, authorities said. Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation.

From there, they took a helicopter to the west rim of the Grand Canyon where it crashed under unknown circumstances Saturday evening on the Hualapai (WAHL'-uh-peye) reservation outside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park.

The helicopter tour was run by Papillon. The recovery efforts wrapped up around 2 a.m. Sunday.


In a statement, Bradley expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the crash victims. A second person suffered burn injuries and no information was provided regarding the two other patients. The US Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the case, the Associated Press reported.

In 1999, a helicopter operated by the company hit a tree, killing the pilot and seriously injuring an instructor.

The pilot and five tourists from NY were killed, while one woman survived.

The helicopter was on a tour of the canyon, one of the top USA tourist destinations and more than a mile (1.6 km) deep, when it went down, a dispatcher for the Hualapai Department of Emergency Services told Phoenix television station KNXV.

"What happened with my daughter, it's happening again", said Braun. The pilot and five passengers died.

In 2014, a pilot was killed after he got out of a running helicopter to go to the bathroom and was struck by rotor blades.

Brenda Halvorson, the CEO of Papillon Group, said: "It is extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy ot the families involved in this accident. We are cooperating fully with NTSB investigators and local authorities".

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