Coast Guard searching for tour helicopter off Kauai’s Nā Pali Coast

Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by PA3 Luke Clayton

Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by PA3 Luke Clayton

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard is searching for seven people overdue aboard a tour helicopter on Kauai.

The owner of an overdue tour helicopter contacted watchstanders at JRCC Honolulu at 6:06 p.m. Thursday. They stated the aircraft was due back at 5:21 p.m. from a tour of Kauai’s Napali Coast with one pilot and six passengers. Two of the six passengers are reportedly minors. The aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, but no signals have been received.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point will conduct first light searches. A Coast Guard Station Kauai 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew will also arrive on the scene at first light and search.

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) will arrive in the search area around 8:30 a.m. The U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew will launch for a search at 9 a.m. Further Department of Defense air support, with the approval of the Pacific Air Forces, has come from the Civil Air Patrol for additional search efforts in the morning.

In addition to military support, Kauai Fire Department is coordinating local efforts from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kauai National Guard, and commercial helicopter support. KFD will also provide their Air-1 helicopter for inland canyon searches beginning at first light.

Upon notification, just after 6 p.m. Thursday of the overdue helicopter, Coast Guard watchstanders at JRCC Honolulu initiated an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, launched a Coast Guard Dolphin aircrew, contacted DoD for HSM-37 Seahawk support, and launched the William Hart.

KFD was contacted and is coordinating ground searches of the shoreline. Barking Sands Security also organized ATV searches of the coastline. There are no signs of the helicopter.

The Dolphin helicopter crew conducted three search patterns for the evening along the northwest portion of Kauai. The HSM-37 Seahawk crew flew a five-hour search of the northwest shoreline area.

Friday’s forecast includes continued winds around 28 mph with wind waves at 7 feet, a northwest swell of 6 feet, and scattered rain showers. A small craft advisory is in effect for the waters around Kauai and northwest Oahu.


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