HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. investigators said Thursday they were waiting for weather to clear so they may send a recovery team to retrieve the wreckage of a tour helicopter that crashed last week into a remote mountain ridge on the Hawaii island of Kauai and killed seven people.
The wreckage will be removed by helicopter, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said.
Typically investigators go to wreckage sites and take photos and detailed measurements to help determine the cause of crashes. But Weiss said the agency believes it would be safer to remove the wreckage for the investigation instead of sending investigators there given the difficulty of reaching the crash site. The wreckage will be moved to an undisclosed, secure location, he said.
The other options would have been to send investigators on a 4-to-8 hour hike through dense forest to get to the crash site, or to tether investigators to a helicopter and fly them there. There is no place to land an aircraft where the helicopter crashed.
“We felt it was a safer option to move the helicopter first for the examination," Weiss said.
Investigators are confident they have enough information on the crash site because of drone photos and video and an overflight survey, he said.
The agency expects to release its preliminary report on the crash in a couple of weeks. Its full investigation could take one to two years.
The agency said Tuesday the tour helicopter hit a ridge at an altitude of 2,900 feet (883 meters) then fell about 100 feet (30 meters). The helicopter's commercial pilot and six passengers were killed.
Four of the six passengers were a family from Switzerland. Two others were from Madison, Wisconsin.