5 dead in copter crash on Hawaii's Molokai island

November 11, 2011
Emergency vehicles from are positioned near Kilohana Elementary School on Molokai, in Hawaii, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, after a helicopter taking four tourists on an excursion over the island crashed into a mountainside near the school killing all of the tourists and the pilot, according to authorities. (AP Photo/Joey Salamon)

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal officials are investigating the fiery crash of a tour helicopter that slammed into a mountain ridge on Hawaii's Molokai island, killing the pilot and the four tourists aboard.

The aircraft carrying the five people was on a tourist excursion of West Maui and Molokai when it went down near an elementary school Thursday, authorities said.

Firefighters recovered four bodies and the fifth was located under the wreckage, Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said.

There was no word on the cause of the crash but he said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters owner David Chevalier said the passengers were two men and two women taking a 45-minute tour that departed from Kahului, on Maui.

He declined to release the pilot's name because his wife had not yet been notified.

Antone told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the passengers were from Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. Maui County didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking confirmation.

At least two of the passengers were newlyweds, the newspaper reported.

The EC-130 chopper that crashed was less than a year old and was being leased from Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC, Chevalier said.


Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy contributed to this report.