Helicopter crash kills four

A sightseeing tour over the lava fields of Kilauea on Father’s Day turned deadly for a Pennsylvania family when the helicopter they were riding in crashed yesterday, killing them and their pilot. While the victims’ bodies have been recovered, federal investigators now face a race against time, as an active lava flow threatens to bury the crash site.

Penn. television station WGAL has identified three of the victims as a local family. They are 13-year-old Nicole Laughman, her mother Jody, and her step-father Jim Thomas. Nicole was a seventh grader at Bermudian Springs Middle School. The family lived in East Berlin, located about 15 miles west of the town of York.

The helicopter, a Hughes 500, was operated by Tropical Helicopters, a sightseeing helicopter company operating out of Hilo and Kona. The pilot’s name has not been released.

According to officials at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the helicopter crashed at around 9:45 a.m. at an elevation of about 600 feet, approximately two miles inland from the shoreline where tourists gather to watch lava enter the sea.

Park officials confirmed today that lava is moving toward the crash site, but have not yet determined how far away the lava flow is, or how long the lava would take to reach it.

The pilot reported engine trouble and issued a mayday alert before the crash, according to an representative from the Federal Aviation Administration quoted in today’s Star-Bulletin.

Notably, the crash temporarily halted a separate search for a missing Indiana man.

Tim Lynch, 44, left his hometown of Newburgh, Ind. on June 1, but did not return as expected on June 6. He never checked out of his hotel room, and his rental car was found at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to WTVW Fox 7 News. At least 30 park staffmembers and volunteers are involved in the search.

10 thoughts on “Helicopter crash kills four

  1. this was a friend of mine from bermudian and we were rele good friends ……….if you have ne more info on her and this accident could you forward it to me please i am rele counting on it………thank you

  2. Russ ” Hoss” and his wife Tina are good friends of mine. I too would love information . Anything you have to offer is welcomed. Thank you.

  3. Russ ” Hoss” and his wife Tina are good friends of mine. I too would love information . Anything you have to offer is welcomed. Thank you.

  4. I worked with Hoss for three years as a fire dispatcher in Northern Idaho, he was a great person, words cannot describe the loss. I would like as much information as I can on what happened.

  5. Nicole was a great girl, it’s hard to believe that she is gone…She was on my basketball team and she was a very good athlete…We all will miss her…

  6. Jodi (you’ve spelled her name wrong in the article) was the younger sister of a high school classmate. While I haven’t seen them in 20 years, the family is extremely closeknit and the devastation they’re experience must be unbearing. My heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to all families and friends who lost their loved ones in this tragedy.

  7. We were best friends since 2nd grade.We loved to play basketball with each other and go shopping.She was so funny and great.Next year in basketball season it just wont be the same passing with her or playing l on l.Jodi was like a mom to me she was so kind and funny.I was supposed to go to the moutians with them next year and would of had a blast and it is ashame that we cant.Jim was funny and kind to.

  8. I was in the area at the time of the accident. The park staff would not tell us anything, but I heard on the news later that day. Sorry to hear of the loss of these wonderful people.
    To be honest, these accidents happen far too frequently, and I hope future tragedies can be prevented.

  9. omg where do i start…nicole and my older brother dated on adn off for like 2 yrs or so and me and her were really close..she was like my sister i loved her so much and now shes gone…i dont what exactly to say its just that i miss her so much and i love her so much..i dont understand why though…why couldnt we stop it or why them and her i mean its just doesnt make any sense…i wasnt like her best friend or anything but we were super close and i just dont know..i miss her so much

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