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A Grand Canyon helicopter crash Saturday evening killed three people and seriously injured four others.
The three passengers who died were identified early today as Becky Dobson, 27; her boyfriend, Stuart Hill, 30; and his brother, Jason Hill, 32.
Peter Dobson, Becky’s father, told the Press Association news agency of Britain that the three were staying in Las Vegas for a long weekend to celebrate Hill’s 30th birthday.
All six passengers involved in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash were from the United Kingdom. The identities of those injured were released by local police as Ellie Milward, 29; Jonathan Udall, 32; and Jennifer Barham, 39.
All three injured passengers were airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, as was the pilot, Scott Booth, 42. All four are listed as critical.
The crash occurred around 5:20 p.m. local time near Quartermaster Canyon on the Hualapai Nation, a federally recognized Indian reservation in northwestern Arizona, according to a statement by the Hualapai Nation Police Department.
Darkness, wind, and the area’s remoteness – which can only be reached by foot or by helicopter – made rescue efforts very difficult. It took nine hours before the four survivors were able to be airlifted to University Medical Center.
The helicopter was operated by tour firm Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, whose tours originate mostly from Las Vegas. The company markets itself as the “World’s Largest Aerial Sightseeing Company,” and says it accommodates more than 600,000 passengers annually.
Grand Canyon helicopter crash:
Deadly start to year for copters
There have been numerous helicopter-related crashes so far in 2018:
- Jan. 15: A McDonald-Douglas 369 helicopter crashed in Troy Township, OH, killing the pilot and passenger. They had been performing utility work for Toledo Edison.
- Jan. 17: Five people died in a Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter crash in a mountainous area near the northern New Mexico border. One passenger survived but was severely injured.
- Jan. 20: Two Army soldiers were killed when their AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed during a training exercise at Fort Irwin, CA.
- Jan. 21: A small experimental helicopter crashed in Palm Beach County, FL. The pilot was the only person on board at the time of the accident.
- Jan. 24: A Schweizer 269-C helicopter crash-landed on a street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL. Both the pilot and passenger escaped without injury.
- Jan. 26: A midair collision between a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza plane and a Robinson R44 helicopter resulted in the injury of the helicopter pilot at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland, CO.
- Jan. 27: A helicopter crash killed one and wounded two when their copter crashed near the Snake River in Eastern Washington. They had been performing a mule deer survey for the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Jan. 30: Three people were killed in a Robinson R44 helicopter that crashed into a home in Newport Beach, CA. One passenger in the copter survived with injuries, and a pedestrian on the ground also was injured.
- Feb. 1: Three people suffered minor injuries when their Hughes 369E helicopter crashed in a remote area of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, CA.
FAA: Copter crash rate on decline
According to FAA data, the U.S. helicopter crash rate and the fatal helicopter crash rate fell for the third consecutive year in 2016 (statistics for 2017 have not been released). Those statistics:
- The overall crash rate fell to 3.19 crashes per 100,000 flight hours in 2016, compared with 3.66 crashes in 2015.
- The fatal crash rate fell slightly to 0.51 crashes per 100,000 flight hours in 2016 compared with a 0.52 rate in 2015. The fatal crash rate, however, was down from 0.65 in 2014 and 1.02 in 2013.
- There were 106 helicopter crashes in 2016, including 17 fatal crashes. That represents a 12 percent decrease compared to the previous year and a 27 percent decrease compared to 2013.