PHOENIX - All passengers and the pilot who were on board a tour helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon Saturday night have been identified, according the the Hualapai Police Department.
Hualapai Police Chief Francis Bradley said all six passengers on the Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters chopper were from the United Kingdom.
Passengers Becky Dobson, 27, Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, died in the crash, according to Hualapai police.
The pilot, 42-year-old Scott Booth, survived but has a severe injury. Ellie Milward, 29, Jonathan Udall, 32, and Jennifer Barham, 39, along with Booth were flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas early Sunday morning. Bradley said a tour guide was one of four critically injured victims
Bradley said high-winds, dust and rugged terrain delayed the transportation. First responders worked to stabilize victims for more than eight hours.
Tour flights were still grounded Sunday, as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTS), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Hualapai Police Department came together to figure out what caused this chopper to wreck and burst into flames.
Photographer Teddy Fujimoto, said it was a nightmare at Quartermaster Canyon where couples usually swear a lifetime of love.
“We call it the wedding point,” Fujimoto said.
The once breathtaking backdrop turned into a ghastly tragedy just before 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It hit the side and then I heard that it kind of crashed and rolled and then it just kind of blew up,” Fujimoto said.
Investigators said the tour flew out of Boulder City, Nevada.
“One of the ladies’ clothes were off, she had burns all over her body, there was just blood everywhere,” Fujimoto said.
Bradley said the Federal Aviation Administration is already on site and the National Transportation Safety Board will join and start an investigation.
The CEO of Papillon Group, Brenda Halvorson, sent 12 News the following statement:
It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident.
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.
Papillon tours has been involved in a number of incidents in the past including a crash in 2001 where the pilot and five of his passengers died; there was one survivor.