weather icon Clear

Papillon helicopter crash kills 3; cause under investigation

Updated February 15, 2018 - 10:42 am

A helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 10, that killed three and injured four is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and resulted in a temporary flight restriction for the Grand Canyon West area.

A Eurocopter EC 130 B4 helicopter operated by Boulder City-based Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crashed at approximately 5:15 p.m., killing three of the six passengers, who were from the United Kingdom. The remaining passengers and the pilot were “seriously injured,” according to Stephen Stein, an NTSB air safety inspector.

Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said the crash occurred near Quartermaster Canyon on the Hualapai Nation Indian Reservation, about 60 miles west of Peach Springs, Arizona.

The rescue efforts were hampered by severe winds, and concluded at 2:06 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 11.

The passengers who died are Becky Dobson, 27; Jason Hill, 32; and Stuart Hill, 30.. The British Consulate General of Los Angeles helped tribal police notify their families

According to Bradley, the pilot had a “severe injury” to one of his limbs and one of the victims had severe burns.

At a press briefing, Stein said that he and several others with the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration were conducting an on-scene investigation to gather perishable information that would not be available after the wreckage was removed.

“Once wreckage has been removed, we will start to gather archive information related to the pilot, the aircraft, and the environment,” he said.

Stein said a preliminary report that would “briefly describe” the circumstances surrounding the accident will be available at www.ntsb.gov in the next five to 10 days. The final report, that would include an analysis with the probable cause, should be complete in approximately 18 months.

The long timeline is “because it’s a very technical heavy investigation,” he said.

Stein said federal investigators are looking into whether the helicopter had a crash-resistant fuel system. A 1994 FAA regulation requires all newly certificated helicopters to be equipped with the system, but those with certificates approved before October of that year are not subject to the rule.

When asked at the briefing if the helicopter exploded on impact, he said that the most he could do was describe the scene of the accident.

“It’s a contained site within the ridge of the Grand Canyon at the base of the Grand Canyon right next to the river,” he said. “There is evidence of a post-crash fire.”

The FAA put the area under a temporary flight restriction and according to a Papillon spokesperson it has been lifted and flights have resumed.

“It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident,” said Brenda Halverson, chief executive officer of the Papillon Group. “Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff. Family members seeking immediate assistance, please call 1-866-512-9121. We are cooperating fully with NTSB investigators and local authorities.”

Stein encouraged anyone who witnessed the accident to email the NTSB at witness@ntsb.gov.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal contributed to this article.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Forecast projects 30-plus-foot drop in 2 years at Lake Mead

Lake Mead’s water level is projected to drop more than 30 feet in the next two years, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority is urging people to continue conserving water.

Transportation issues forces changes to school hours

Several schools in Boulder City will be affected by the district’s recent decision to change the start and end times at some campuses in order to improve transportation.

Process to report mask mandate violations established

Nevada’s mask mandate is still in effect, and the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration office has created a way for people to report alleged violations.

District implements 5-day pause

The Clark County School District is implementing a five-day pause for all classes and school activities due to extreme staffing issues because of the high number of positive COVID-19 cases.

Motion for special fund to build development’s storm drain fails

Boulder City will not move forward with creating a special improvement district to pay for infrastructure improvements to a piece of land marked for sale despite the mayor requesting staff research the process.

Interim evaluations eliminated; timing puts focus on annual reviews

The city manager and city attorney will not have interim performance evaluations after City Council approved removing the requirement from their contracts and to just move forward with annual reviews.

Lake Mead not affected by planned water releases

Water operations at Lake Mead will not be affected by a reduction in the monthly water releases from Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, according to Bureau of Reclamation officials.

New Townsite Solar project lauded

The recently completed Townsite Solar + Storage project will provide another avenue for Boulder City to purchase power, as well as bring in millions of dollars of revenue.

Historian, Nevada native to lead train museum

The Nevada Division of Museums and History has selected historian Christopher MacMahon as the new director of the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City.