Mainland News Outlets, Facebook Posts ID Some South Point Helicopter Crash Victims
Two mainland media outlets and two Facebook posts have identified some of the passengers involved in a helicopter crash Wednesday (June 8) near South Point on the Big Island.
According to an article by The Chattanoongan in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a Chattanooga car dealer and two family members were among six people aboard the Paradise Helicopters Bell 407 helicopter, operated by K&S Helicopters, when it crashed on Wednesday. The outlet identified Clay Watson and his daughters, Kennedy and Clayton Watson, as three of the five passengers.
According to Chattanooga news station WDEF-TV, Watson is president of the Mountain View Auto Group in Chattanooga.
The Chattanoogan article was attached to a public Facebook post by Teena Julian Renegar, who has been a friend of a Watson family member for many years.
“Ask for prayers for everyone involved in the helicopter crash that occurred in Hawai’i. The father and his two daughters are from Chattanooga and one of the daughters is in very serious condition,” Renegar said in his message Thursday “Their grandmother is a very dear and special friend that Robyn, Bethany and I have been friends with for many years. Please take a minute and send a prayer for the girl who is very serious and for his family who are distraught and hurt.
Elle St. Charles Prime also asked in a public Facebook post on Thursday for prayers for the Watson family.
“I need all the prayers for the Watson family. A family friend, his two beautiful daughters and three other people had a helicopter crash while on vacation at HI,” his post read. “One of his daughters is still in critical condition according to the latest news. I can’t imagine how scary it is for them right now. Please send them all your prayers during this time. Clay, Kennedy, Clayton and April, we are all thinking of you and here if you need us.
The crash happened shortly before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The tour helicopter crashed in an open lava field between Ranchos Subdivision and South Point Road. Two of the occupants of the helicopter were seriously injured. All patients were transported to Kona Community Hospital.
According to the Hawai’i Fire Department, which extracted all victims from the crash scene with its Chopper 1 and 2 helicopters, the six people on board the plane at the time of the wreckage included three women, aged 18 and 19, and three men, aged 23, 48 and 54. The two most seriously injured were the 19-year-old woman and the 54-year-old man.
The identity of the victims has not yet been released or confirmed by the authorities. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
“The helicopter departed Kona International Airport at approximately 5:01 p.m. HST for a sightseeing tour,” Jennifer Gabris of NTSB Media Relations told Big Island Now Thursday morning in an email. “The crash occurred at approximately 5:29 p.m. HST. The helicopter was scheduled to return to Kona International Airport. The NTSB is not on the scene at this time. An investigator will travel to Hawai’i to examine the wreckage once recovered.
Gabris said a preliminary report, which includes all the information learned so far, should be released within 15 working days of the sinking.
K&S Helicopters released a statement Wednesday evening after the crash.
“At this time, the K&S Helicopters Emergency Response Plan has been activated and all company resources are mobilized to respond to the incident,” the statement said. “K&S Helicopters is cooperating with all relevant authorities and also endeavoring to help those affected.”
“The care of our passengers, crew members and their families is our top priority,” K&S Helicopters’ Calvin Dorn said as part of the company’s statement.
The full statement can be viewed on the Paradise Helicopters website.
This is a developing story. More information will be provided as it becomes available.