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Wed, Apr 21, 2004

Three Rescued After Hawaii Mishap

Pilot Makes Frantic Cell Phone Call For Help

Coast Guard sailors Monday recounted the dramatic nighttime rescue of three people injured when their Piper Warrior crash-landed on Hawaii's Big Island.

KITV Television reports the plane went down on a lava flow described by rescuers as "jagged, super sharp, just a nasty area." A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched to the area after a frantic series of calls to 911 from the pilot, who used one of her passenger's cell phones.

  • Dispatcher: Fire department address and location of your emergency.
  • Pilot: Just south of Milolii.
  • Dispatcher: I'm sorry I can barely hear you.
  • Pilot: Just south, south of Milo- Milolii.
  • Dispatcher: South of Milolii?
  • Pilot: Yes, the plane. Three people... we're OK, but we need help.
  • Dispatcher: I'm sorry. This is on the highway?
  • Pilot: Crashed plane! An airplane!
  • Dispatcher: An airplane crash.
  • Pilot: Correct.
  • Dispatcher: South of Milolii. How many people on board.
  • Pilot: Three!
  • Dispatcher: Three people. Is everybody ok?
  • Pilot: Yes, please help us.
  • Pilot: (garbled) call Island Hoppers. Island Hoppers.
  • Dispatcher: Ok, you know what, can you guys just, hello?
  • Pilot: Hello?
  • Dispatcher: Ok, you need to try to calm down, OK? I understand you're scared, but I need to get information from you, OK?
  • Pilot: Yes, Yes.
  • Dispatcher: If you yell, I cannot understand you, OK?
  • Pilot: Yes.

The pilot was unable to describe her exact location, making a rescue all the more difficult. But she was able to tell dispatchers about the injuries she and the others sustained in the accident.

  • Dispatcher: How bad are the burns?
  • Pilot: We have burns, three people we need help.
  • Dispatcher: Burns to where? They're being sent, OK? Burns to where?
  • Pilot: What?
  • Dispatcher: Burns to what part of your body?
  • Pilot: burns, head and uh, hands.
  • Dispatcher: Head and hands. Anybody...
  • Pilot: Arms, back...
  • Dispatcher: Head, hands, arms, back...
  • Pilot: legs...
  • Rescuers were dispatched to the general area as the phone conversation continued.
  • Dispatcher: Hello?
  • Pilot: Yes?
  • Dispatcher: Ok, are you guys still burning or is the fire out on the people?
  • Pilot: The fire is still burning. The plane is still on fire.
  • Dispatcher: The plane is, but the people are not, right? Is anybody trapped in the plane?
  • Pilot: Yes?
  • Dispatcher: Is anybody trapped in the plane?
  • Pilot: No.
  • Dispatcher: No, everybody is out.
  • Pilot: Yes.
  • Dispatcher: OK.

Rescuers didn't find the wrecked Warrior until long after dark -- sometime after 8:00 pm local, according to Coast Guard officials. They found the two passengers near the aircraft.

"They were so happy to see us. On our first pass, I just remember the guy waving his shirt, standing on the tail of the aircraft. I couldn't believe he was moving so much because he was so badly burnt, as a matter of fact the shirt he was waving was burnt," Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Wilson said.

But the pilot had walked off to find help. She was found about 150 yards away, lying curled up in a ravine, according to KITV.

"I shined the light down on her and she was just ecstatic to see me. She thought she was left. She told me, 'They left me. They left me.' And I told her, 'No, we are here. We are here to help,'" Wilson said.

FAA Preliminary Accident Report

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 8198A        Make/Model: PA28      Description: PA-28 CHEROKEE, ARROW, WARRIOR, ACHER, D
  Date: 04/18/2004     Time: 0315

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: MILOLII                     State: HI   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  ACFT DEPARTED ON A SIGHT SEEING TOUR AND CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN
  CIRCUMSTANCES IN A LAVA FIELD APROXIMATELY 10 MILES SOUTH OF MILOLII, THE
  ACFT WAS DESTROYED BY FIRE, THE THREE PERSONS ON BOARD SUSTAINED SERIOUS
  INJURIES, MILOLII, HI

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Pass:    2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   
                 # Grnd:           Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   

WEATHER: UNK                                                                        
                                                                                    
                                                        

OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Unknown      Operation: General Aviation

  Departed: KONA, HI                    Dep Date: 04/18/2004   Dep. Time: 0215
  Destination: KONA, HI                 Flt Plan: VFR          Wx Briefing: Y
  Last Radio Cont: CLR TO SOUTH REQUEST FREQ CHGE
  Last Clearance: CLRD FOR T/O RY 17 G

  FAA FSDO: HONOLULU, HI  (WP13)                  Entry date: 04/19/2004

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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