As investigators tried to figure out what caused the crash of the Papillon aerial-touring company helicopter — which was carrying a pilot and six tourists from the United Kingdom — a witness described to ABC News watching in disbelief as one of the survivors walked out of the flames.
Witness Lionel Douglass, who was attending a wedding on a bluff about 1,000 yards away from where the helicopter crashed and exploded, said the scene reminded him of the biblical story of when Jesus rescued Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego from a fiery furnace they were cast into by King Nebuchadnezzar.
The helicopter “sustained substantial damage” when the crash occurred “under unknown circumstances” in the Quartermaster Canyon area of the immense wilderness wonderland on Saturday afternoon, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer told ABC News.
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Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said the crash occurred at 5:20 p.m.
Bradley said a storm was rolling into the area around the time of the crash. He said weather conditions were “not normal,” but no flight restrictions had been imposed.
He said the crash occurred in an area with extremely rugged terrain and that initial rescue efforts by emergency helicopter were hampered by gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. Bradley said rescuers had to hike into the area and that they didn’t get everyone out of the wreckage until about 2 a.
“It happened so fast.
When I saw them turning, I wasn’t sure what he was doing and by the time I yelled to everybody to turn around and look, it was all out of control,” Douglass said. “It fell down between the mountains, the tail broke in half, it hit the bottom and it was the biggest explosion you ever heard and then flames like you never seen before.
He said the initial explosion was followed by five or six others.
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He said the woman who staggered out of the flames appeared to be disoriented. Once out of harm’s way she collapsed to the ground and began screaming the name Jason.
It is unclear if the pilot is among the injured or deceased.
The four who survived the crash were taken by rescue helicopter to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada and remained in critical condition Sunday evening, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen told ABC News.
info/wp-content/plugins/OxaRss/images/7c6c619f99c42ece15e1fa4807ad4c20_ht_crash2_dc_021118_3x2_992.jpg” />Teddy FujimotoFirst responders approach the scene where a helicopter crashed in Grand Canyon National Park on Feb.
“It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident. Our top priority is the care and ne of our passengers and our staff,” Brenda Halvorson, chief executive officer of the helicopter touring company’s parent company, Papillon Group, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.
ABC News’ Rex Sakamoto and Lucien Bruggeman contributed to this report.