Three tourists dead in US Grand Canyon chopper crash

Three people were killed after a tour helicopter carrying seven people crashed in the Grand Canyon in the USA state of Arizona on Saturday.

Becky Dobson, 27, Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, died in the crash on Saturday evening, the Hualapai Nation Police Department said.

It came down in the Grand Canyon West area when at around 5.20pm local time (00.20 am GMT) on Saturday.

First responders had difficulty reaching the four survivors, Bradley said, noting, "It is too windy and it's dark and the area is very rugged".

Three other passengers and the pilot were injured.

Records from the National Transportation Safety Board show that Papillon had a fatal helicopter crash on August 10, 2001, that took the lives of the pilot and five passengers. "It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident", said Papillon Group chief executive Brenda Halvorson. They were rescued during an operation that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, Bradley said.

Unlike the national park, air tours on the Hualapai reservation are not subject to federal regulations that restrict routes, impose curfews and cap the amount of flights over the Grand Canyon each year.

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Las Vegas photographer Teddy Fujimoto was shooting wedding photos at the time of Saturday's crash when he saw people running to the edge of a gulch. He said one of them "was pretty much burned all over".

It is not clear what caused the crash.

She also says Papillon's top priority is the care and needs of its passengers and staff.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the Eurocopter EC130 aircraft sustained considerable damage.

Papillon Grand Cayon Helicopters has held the title of the world's oldest and largest sightseeing company since 1965, according to its website.

The company's CEO released a statement following the fatal crash. The pilot and five passengers - who were all from NY - died.

  • Rita Burton