Three Britons killed in Grand Canyon helicopter crash

Three Britons died, and three other were taken to hospital when the helicopter crashed into the Grand Canyon

A survivor walks away from the crash (Photo: CBS)
A survivor walks away from the crash (Photo: CBS)

Three Britons have died after a helicopter crashed in the Grand Canyon, the UK Foreign Office has confirmed.

US media reported Becky Dobson, 27, Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, died in Saturday afternoon’s incident, while three further Britons were taken to hospital.

Ellie Milward, 29, Jonathan Udall, 32, and Jennifer Barham, 39, were airlifted to University Medical Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with pilot Scott Booth, 42, according to Arizona Central.

The Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters chopper crashed under unknown circumstances on Saturday evening on the Grand Canyon's West Rim.

Hualapai police chief Francis Bradley said: “It’s a very tragic incident. Yesterday, we were hampered by severe weather conditions, we had gusts up to 50mph. The terrain where the crash occurred... is extremely rugged.”

He said rescue teams had worked at the site until 2am on Sunday morning. The wreckage was located in Quartermaster Canyon, a particularly remote side valley to the Grand Canyon.

A witness said he saw flames and black smoke spewing from the crash site, heard explosions and saw victims who were bleeding and badly burned.

Teddy Fujimoto, a Las Vegas photographer who was doing a wedding shoot near the crash site, said he saw people running toward the edge of a gulch. “In the gulch, there was a helicopter, flames, smoke,” he said. “It was horrible.”

Fujimoto said he saw two badly injured women and one of them was shouting out a man’s name. He said one of them “was pretty much burned all over”.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are providing support to the families of six British visitors involved in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon on 10 February and we are in close contact with the US emergency services.”

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board were sent to the crash scene to begin investigating what caused the the Eurocopter EC130 helicopter to go down, Bradley said. The Federal Aviation Administration will also be investigating the crash, spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

The tour company released a statement Sunday, promising full cooperation with crash investigators and offering sympathy.

 “It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident,” said Papillon Group chief executive Brenda Halvorson. “Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff.”

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