Federal report details fatal 2019 Kauai (HI) helicopter crash

HONOLULU (AP) – The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday released an investigation report into a fatal helicopter crash while touring Hawaii that left seven people dead.

The more than 1,300 page report indicated that an unusual weather pattern was present in the area on the day of the accident and witnesses reported low visibility with fog and rain. Rescue efforts were hampered by weather conditions.

Wednesday’s report did not detail the cause of the crash. A report with the final findings will be published at a later date.

The Safari Helicopters tour of the secluded Na Pali Coast in Kauai crashed into a steep, forested slope on December 26, 2019. There were no survivors.

The pilot, Paul Matero, 69, had his license revoked in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana. Her certificate was fully reinstated in 2012 after completing the required programs.

A toxicology report after the accident found no drugs in Matero’s system.

Matero’s last medical examination took place in July 2019 and did not reveal any health problems or medication. The extent of his injuries made the autopsy diagnosis of any new illness “extremely limited,” according to the report.

Investigators asked company officials about the pilot’s previous weather decisions.

Safari’s director of operations, who was not named in the report, said Matero was “the most conservative pilot” in Kauai, according to the report. The director said the company has never received any complaints about Matero.

Kauai, with its sheer seaside cliffs and mountainous terrain, often experiences rapidly changing weather systems that can change conditions quickly.

Ladd Sanger, a Texas-based aviation attorney and helicopter pilot who has handled several accident cases involving similar helicopters in Hawaii, said Kauai tour operators face unique challenges due to the weather. and topography.

Kauai “has microclimates, so the weather at the airport is going to be different than the weather at the crash site,” Sanger told The Associated Press after the 2019 crash. dissipate quickly too, so weather reports are difficult. “

Matero was well regarded by passengers, colleagues and aviation officials, according to the report.

A former director of the Federal Aviation Administration in Honolulu told investigators he was surprised Matero had an accident, according to the report.

“I didn’t see something like that happen to Paul because I thought he was a pretty straight shooter,” the anonymous FAA official said.

The crash was the latest in a series of fatal aviation crashes in Hawaii, including a parachute plane crash that left 11 people dead on Oahu in June of that year.

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