Grand Canyon attracts thousands of visitors each year. On average, 12 people die annually in the canyon. Three died this weekend when the helicopter they were in crashed. The remote location and steep terrain made rescuing the survivors difficult. Now images of the aftermath of the crash have been published.
The helicopter that crashed was part of a sightseeing company that took tourists in for a look at the canyon few ever see.
“Becky Dobson, 27, and brothers Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, all died,” The Daily Mail notes, “while Jennifer Barham, 39, and newlywed couple Ellie Milward, 29, and Jonathan Udall, 32, are fighting for their lives in hospital.” All were in Arizona on vacation from England.
The group had gone to Grand Canyon to celebrate Stuart Hill’s birthday. During winter, the weather can be unpredictable. A storm developed with 50 mph winds and the helicopter crashed on the west rim of the canyon, in the Hualapai Nation.
The helicopter’s pilot, Scott Booth, is also in critical condition.The crash was witnessed by people on the ground. It reportedly fell 600 feet before crashing.
After the impact, one woman was seen emerging from the wreckage. She walked away from the crash site.
“It is unclear whether the survivor pictured fleeing the wreckage is Ms Barham or Ms Milward,” the Mail notes.
The Eurocopter EC130 went down at 5.30 pm Saturday.
Rev David Hill, father of the two brother killed in the crash, told The Daily Mail: “The boys had been saving for over a year for this trip and they were really looking forward to it.”
“They and a group of friends had all flown out to celebrate Stuart’s birthday and it was part of the trip for them to all go on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.”
“We found out yesterday about the crash and me and their mother, Sandra, are truly devastated.”
“The boys were so close, they were born 22 months apart and were like twins. They were just inseparable.”
“Jason worked as a solicitor and Stuart worked as a car salesman, they both lived very successful lives, we were so proud of them.”
“We are so lucky to have had our boys for 30 years. We are so heartbroken.”
Hualapai Nation Police Chief, Francis Bradley Sr. explained how conditions kept first responders from immediately reaching the crash. High winds and the rough terrain meant it took 9 hours for the injured to make it to the hospital.
“First responders had to be flown in and walk to the crash site. Quartermaster Canyon is an extremely remote area. We had to call in specially trained crews – people with night-vision goggles,” he said.
Kaitlyn Rodriguez is one of those who saw the helicopter go down. “I was on this tour and moments after our helicopter landed, witnessed the crash,” she wrote on Facebook.
“My amazingly brave mother, along with several others, trekked down into the ravine to assist the survivors.”
“We were stranded in the Grand Canyon for hours, my Mom being at the bottom administering medical attention to the survivors for over 10 hours.”
“So very proud of her and all who helped the victims of the crash. Such a tragic accident.”