A teenager is in critical condition today after the private helicopter he was riding in crashed into Pearl Harbor. On Thursday, the Bell 206 aircraft carrying five passengers was wrecked after it hit the water and immediately sank near the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Oahu.
Bystanders jumped into the water to help rescue the passengers of the helicopter that slammed into the water approximately 20 feet offshore, in close proximity to the visitor center.
Shawn Winrich captured the helicopter’s tragic hard landing on video where the aircraft’s blades sliced into the water after it turned on its side. “I saw it like as it was coming in, and it looked pretty normal,” Shawn’s daughter, Justice Winrich, told KGMB-TV. “It didn’t look like it was shaking or anything. It just started like getting really close this way and started going down.”
Three people got out of the helicopter, which is reportedly owned by Jeffrey Gebhard and belongs to Genesis Aviation, immediately and swam to the shore.
“I took off my shirt and dove in,” said Chris Gardner, a tour guide with Keawe Adventures who was with a group of tourists at the visitor center when it happened.
Gardner was joined by a Navy sailor, a federal police officer and another man took turns diving to the sinking helicopter and attempting to free with a knife of a passenger who was still strapped into their seat.
Operations at the visitor center, including visits to the nearby USS Arizona Memorial, were suspended until further notice, the Navy said.
“I was like, oh my God, I can’t believe this just happened,” Justice said. “It was crazy. You go on vacation and you never think you’re going to see something like that.”