3 dead, 4 injured after helicopter crashes in Grand Canyon

In this Oct. 5, 2013, file photo, the Grand Canyon National Park is covered in the morning sunlight as seen from a helicopter near Tusayan, Ariz.

(Photo: Julie Jacobson, AP)

PHOENIX — A rescue effort in the Grand Canyon continued through the night after the crash of a tour helicopter that killed three people and injured four on Saturday afternoon, officials said. 

Just before midnight, Hualapai Nation Police Department Chief Francis Bradley said four public-safety agencies were working together to save lives.

“The rescue is ongoing,” he said. “We have a unified command set up.

The Papillon Airways Eurocopter EC130 carrying seven people crashed under “unknown circumstances,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer told The Arizona Republic.

Bradley said the helicopter crashed near the Quartermaster Canyon in the Grand Canyon just before 5:30 p.

m. Saturday.

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Three people were confirmed dead and there were four Level 1 trauma patients at the scene, Bradley said in a text to The Arizona Republic at about 9:45 p.


The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

No further details were immediately available. 

A woman answering the Papillon company phone number for scheduling helicopter tours declined to comment on the crash or deaths.

The tour company advertises itself on its website as the “World’s Largest Grand Canyon Sightseeing Company.”

The company states on its website that “safety is our top priority,” and it is certified by the Tour Operators Program of Safety.

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“Operators who carry a TOPS certification have agreed to operate their airlines to standards that far exceed those set forth by the FAA,” the site states, adding that standards are enforced by internal and external audits.

Rates for tours, according to the website, range from $109-$224, with a more expensive $554 flight that includes landing at the bottom of the canyon, a meal and walk along the Skywalk bridge.

Tours from the Grand Canyon West Rim range from $194-$254.

The West Rim has become a more popular destination for tours after the 2007 opening of the Skywalk.

The horseshoe-shaped international attraction extends along a see-through bridge jutting from a craggy cliff and over the depths of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. 

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The Hualapai Tribe manages the steel and glass bridge that lies on its reservation.

Conservationists have objected to the spike in flights, citing worries over how the increased tourism would affect the national park as well as about increased safety risks.

Helicopter and airplane crashes at the canyon date back decades.

The creation of the Federal Aviation Administration stemmed from a 1956 crash at the canyon that killed 128 people.

Hualapai tribal officials said they operate a responsible tourism plan that protects the Grand Canyon and the people who visit it.

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