Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
A report identifying the pilot as the likely cause of a deadly Hawaiian helicopter crash is bringing some closure to family members, according to the lawyer for one family.
The pilot's flying too close to the mountains during inclement weather was the likely cause of a sightseeing helicopter crash that killed all five people aboard on Nov. 10, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board determined in a final report published Friday.
Pilot Nathan Cline, 30; newlyweds Michael and Nicole Abel of Pittsburgh; and Canadian couple Stuart Robertson and Eva Birgitta Wannersjo of Toronto died when the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Eurocopter EC-130 crashed into mountains above an elementary school and burned.
“Michael Abel and his wife Nicole, they were innocent passengers and their families have suffered quite a bit ... from this horrific event,” said Mark Grace, attorney for David and Marcia Abel, Michael's parents. “They are pleased that (the report) finally came out. It brings some sort ... of closure to what happened.”
Michael Abel, 25, a North Versailles native, and Nicole Abel, 28, of Murrysville were married atop Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh five days before boarding the 45-minute aerial tour over Molokai to see the island's sea cliffs and Hawaii's tallest waterfall while on their honeymoon. The couple worked as engineers at Westinghouse headquarters in Cranberry.
John Gismondi, attorney for Bruce and Cheryl Bevilacqua, Nicole's parents, said he was not surprised by the report's conclusion.
“We knew all along that weather was an issue,” Gismondi said. “It's been a very, very long wait for the family. ... The reality is that the report coming out doesn't change the depth of the human tragedy involved.”
Gismondi said he's not sure the report provides closure for the Bevilacquas, but “it's another piece that can be put to rest.”
Both attorneys said that although the report took about 3 1⁄2 years to be completed, it was very thorough.
The families have wrongful death lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court against Blue Hawaiian and the manufacturer of the helicopter.
“We're cautiously optimistic that Blue Hawaiian at this point will do the right thing and try to bring this matter to an end quickly so (the families) don't have to suffer with protracted litigation,” Grace said. “When families have to go through that, it's like opening the wound every time.”
The report found the pilot failed to clear the mountainous terrain while operating in marginal weather conditions, causing the tail rotor and horizontal stabilizer to hit the ground and/or vegetation, which led to the pilot's loss of control.
“Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to operate into an area surrounded by rising terrain, low and possibly descending cloud bases, rain showers and high wind,” the report of probable cause stated.
The helicopter was engulfed in flames after crashing near Kilohana Elementary School. The school's principal said at the time that there had just been a heavy downpour and he thought the loud boom from the crash was thunder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or email@example.com.
Add Kari Andren to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- County police officer on leave after assault charges filed
- Civil War vet gets 21-gun salute
- Port Authority of Allegheny County eyes $2M in detour costs
- Allegheny County Airport gets FAA grant to trim trees under flight path
- Newsmaker: H. Scott Cunningham
- Teen caught after stolen car crashes in Homewood
- Pa. trooper jailed in co-worker’s fatal shooting during training class
- Overnight closures, lane restrictions announced for Fort Pitt Tunnel, Parkway West
- Man convicted in North Side stabbing
- Leadership rises as issue for Pa. voters in new poll
- 3 Brentwood council members submit resignation letters