Survivor struggles with physical, emotional injuries years after Hawaii helicopter crash
Whenever she sees a helicopter fly overhead, San Francisco resident Dania Hanson finds herself taken back to a traumatic day in March 2007.
Ms. Hanson and her boyfriend Michael Gershon, 60, were taking a helicopter tour of the island with another couple on March 11 when the aircraft, a Hughes 500 helicopter operated by Inter-Island Airways, made a loud bang while flying over the North Shore. The pilot lost control of the helicopter and crash landed a remote YMCA campground.
In her first public interview since the crash, Ms. Hanson recalled the event to Hawaii News Now. She remembered seeing Michael lying on the ground after the crash. “He was laying on the ground on his side, and I was saying ‘Michael, talk to me. Talk to me,’ and he didn’t. And I could tell by looking at him that he was basically gone.” Ms. Hanson told Hawaii News Now. Mr. Gershon died about six minutes after the crash.
The three other passengers and the pilot survived the crash, but Ms. Hanson and a passenger from New Hampshire received critical injuries. As rescue crews removed her from the wreckage, she experienced intense pain. Doctors later discovered she had broken legs and ankles, a broken hip and pelvis, and damage to her kidney and heart.
According to Hawaii News Now, she had trouble walking prior to the crash due to nerve damage from cancer, but the 2007 crash made the disability permanent. And then there are the emotional and psychological injuries.
“Almost every day, I think about it, and especially, if I hear helicopters go over, and I just look at them, and it takes me back inside,” Hanson told Hawaii News Now.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined a manufacturing defect in the helicopter’s tail section caused the crash. The accident occurred just three days after four people were killed in another tour helicopter accident on Kauai.
According to the Honolulu Advertiser, helicopter air tours are big business in Hawaii, where about one in 10 tourists take an air tour, paying about $200 per head for a typical 45-minute flight. That amounts to more than 750,000 passengers.
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