Grand Canyon helicopter crash victim dies, 3 still critical
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A British tourist who was pulled from the wreckage of a fiery helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon died from his injuries Thursday, according to Nevada authorities.
Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg confirmed in a statement that Neil Udall, 31, died at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.
He had been with a group of fellow Britons visiting Las Vegas when a sightseeing helicopter they were flying in crashed in part of the Grand Canyon on Feb. 10. Three of Udall’s friends died.
Udall was one of four people, including the pilot, who were hospitalized after the crash. The other survivors are the 42-year-old pilot Scott Booth; Ellie Milward, 29; and Jennifer Barham, 39.
Hospital spokesman Scott Kerbs said all three remained in critical condition Thursday.
The crash killed veterinary receptionist Becky Dobson, 27; her boyfriend Stuart Hill, a 30-year-old car salesman; and his brother, Jason Hill, a 32-year-old lawyer. The friends, who were in Las Vegas to celebrate Stuart Hill’s birthday, opted to take a Grand Canyon sightseeing helicopter tour on tribal land.
Unlike the more tightly regulated air tours within Grand Canyon National Park, helicopters quickly deposit tourists on the Hualapai reservation and within the canyon for lunches, hikes or pontoon boat rides. Just as quickly, they whisk them away. In the peak season, the reservation has 350 to 400 flights per day, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The Airbus EC130 B4 crashed just before sunset. Guests attending a wedding and people on the canyon’s rim saw smoke billowing from the canyon and the aircraft in flames.
The same helicopter had sustained minor damage in 2012 when its nose touched the ground as the pilot attempted to land at the bottom of the canyon. No injuries were reported.
A preliminary report released Wednesday says the helicopter made at least two 360-degree turns before crashing. But the National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t say what caused the crash. A full NTSB report won’t be completed for more than a year.