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.
Study: Solar panels improve desert life

The solar panels in the Eldorado Valley outside of Boulder City could help desert plants and wildlife because of how they direct rainwater into the ground, according to researchers with Las Vegas’ Desert Research Institute.

Vaccine clinics scheduled

Some Boulder City residents will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for free locally, starting Monday, Jan. 25.

Vece joins race for council seat

With five days remaining until the filing period for those wishing to run for a seat on the City Council officially opens, the pool of candidates continues to grow.

Planning begins for students to return to campuses

Local leaders are unsure how they will implement new guidance from the school district about reopening campuses to students and teachers.

Vaccine questions answered

Boulder City Hospital adheres to federal, state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to the limited quantity available of the newly developed vaccine, a tiered system has been implemented and identifies vulnerable populations to be immunized.

Salary range, guidelines set for new city attorney, manager

The search for the next city manager and city attorney is a little more defined as City Council recently approved the salary range and compensation package for each position.

Purpose of proposed ballot question contested

City Council is divided on whether safety or growth is the purpose of a proposed ballot question about airport capital improvement projects and have yet to decide about moving forward with it.

Three announce plans to seek council seat

Candidate filing for Boulder City’s 2021 municipal election starts in less than two weeks and three residents have already announced their intention to run for city office.

Temporary staff check for COVID compliance

Boulder City is using temporary part-time code enforcement officers to help ensure that local businesses are complying with current health and safety guidelines for the pandemic.

Two council seats up for election

The 2021 municipal election will see residents voting to fill two seats on City Council as well as offer guidance on some community issues.