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Great Barrier Reef Helicopter Crash Kills Two American Tourists

March 22, 2018
2 min read
Great Barrier Reef Helicopter Crash Kills Two American Tourists

Two American tourists were killed on Wednesday when their scenic helicopter ride crashed at a coral-viewing site on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The Whitsunday Air Services-operated helicopter with four American tourists on board was en route to a popular sightseeing pontoon about 40 miles north of the Whitsunday Islands. According to the New York Times, witnesses who were already on the Hardy Reef viewing pontoon watched as the incoming helicopter, a Eurocopter EC120 Colibri, crashed into the water and the pilot tried desperately to pull a passenger from the crashed aircraft.

Two residents of Hawaii, a 65-year-old woman and a 79-year-old man, were killed in the crash. The pilot, as well as two other Americans from Colorado, a 33-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man, survived with minor injuries. The four passengers knew each other, but it's not known how.

The landing was reportedly a routine one for the company and for the pilot, whom police described as experienced. The company has suspended its operations as it works with the Australian authorities to determine the cause. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau confirmed that an investigation was underway.

In this image made from Thursday, March 22, 2018, video, an aerial view shows boats a the scene of a helicopter crash at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. Two Americans were killed and two injured when a helicopter crashed on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Whitsunday Air Services suspended operations as it works with authorities to determine the cause of the crash. (Channel 9 via AP)
Image by channel 9 via AP.

This is the second incident in recent months for Whitsunday Air Services. In November 2017, another of the company's helicopters crashed near Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays.

Earlier this month, a sightseeing helicopter crashed in New York City's East River. The helicopter involved in that crash, a Eurocopter AS350, was different that the one involved in Wednesday's deadly crash.