Sat, May 24, 2008
Witnesses On Santa Catalina Island Report Apparent Power
A Saturday morning helicopter
accident was reported from Southern California's Santa
Catalina Island, 26 miles west of the Los Angeles coastline.
A Eurocopter AS350 operated by private tour company Island
Express went down at approximately 0925 local time on the west end
of the island near the town of Two Harbors. Three people aboard the
helicopter were killed and three others are listed in critical
condition after being airlifted to mainland hospitals. Their
identities have not been released.
The Associated Press reports the helicopter went down near the
Banning House lodge, which overlooks Isthmus Cove, a popular
boating spot. A witness at the lodge reported that the chopper's
engine appeared to quit, and impacted about 200 to 300 yards inland
in grass. It was unclear whether the helicopter was taking anyone
to the lodge.
The crash caused a small fire that was quickly put out according
to authorities on the scene.
Federal Aviation Association spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the
Eurocopter departed Long Beach at 0830 local to pick up the
passengers on Catalina Island and was scheduled to return there.
The crash occurred less than an hour after the helicopter picked up
passengers on the island.
Rainy weather was reported on the island at the time. The cause
of the crash was not immediately known.
According to the company website for Island Express, the company
provides charters and tours to the island and other Southern
California destinations along with movie and television work and
servicing of off-shore oil platforms.
AP reports in 1999 an Island Express sightseeing helicopter made
a hard landing on the island, slightly injuring six tourists.
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