Search Underway for Missing Molokai Helicopter-Updated
3:30 pm update: Maui Fire Department crews have located the crash site and confirmed there are no survivors. The downed helicopter was found about a mile and a half above the highway just east of Puko`o Fire Station. The Maui Police Department is coordinating recovery of the victims and preserving the wreckage for federal investigation.
Initial story at 1:15 pm:
A land, air and water search is currently underway for a missing Molokai helicopter. The black helicopter, with two people on board, reportedly departed Honolulu Tuesday evening and never arrived at a private helicopter pad on Molokai as expected.
The Coast Guard hasn’t released the names of the missing persons pending notification of family members, but the pilot has been unofficially confirmed as Gary Galiher, a prominent attorney and east Molokai homeowner with a helipad on his property. Galiher reportedly makes the flight between Honolulu and Molokai frequently, and is an experienced pilot.
The initial search focused on Molokai but a Coast Guard representative confirmed today that the search is extending into the channel. The Coast Guard could not confirm if radar had tracked the helicopter’s flight path after it left Honolulu.
The Maui Fire Department is also participating in the search on land as well as with the Air 1 helicopter crew.
The helicopter was reported overdue by the owner’s employee at 6:55 a.m. this morning. The employee called 911 and dispatch notified the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center personnel, which initiated the search.
The Coast Guard has issued an urgent request for assistance from mariners in the southern Molokai area. Anyone with information that may help locate the helicopter or crew is asked to contact the Sector Honolulu command center at 808-842-2600.