3 tourists have died in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

A veterinary receptionist from Worthing has been named among three Britons killed in a helicopter crash at the Grand Canyon.

Three further Britons - named by police as Ellie Milward, 29, Jonathan Udall, 32, and Jennifer Barham, 39 - were airlifted to University Medical Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with pilot Scott Booth, 42.

U.S. media outlets report Becky Dobson, 27, Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, died in the incident on Saturday afternoon, while three further Britons were taken to hospital.

The Federal Aviation Administration also will be investigating the crash of the Eurocopter EC130, spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

The circumstances surrounding the crash - on the West Rim of the Canyon - are now unknown.

Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley says navigating the rugged terrain in the dark made it hard for first-responders to reach the helicopter's wreckage.

In August 2001, a Grand Canyon tour helicopter operated by Papillon crashed and burned near Meaview, Arizona. "The terrain where the crash occurred.is extremely rugged".

He says he followed and saw the black smoke from the helicopter wreckage.

After rescuing the survivors, crews continued working at the crash site in order to retrieve the bodies of the three victims, although harsh weather conditions were impede their efforts.

Teddy Fujimoto told CNN affiliate KSNV he was in the area taking photographs when he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

He said he immediately saw two women in their 30s or 40s alive and conscious.

The helicopter was on a tour of the canyon, one of the top US tourist destinations and more than a mile (1.6 km) deep, when it went down, a dispatcher for the Hualapai Department of Emergency Services told Phoenix television station KNXV.

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, run by Papillon Airways, prides itself as being "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company" and "the only way to tour the Grand Canyon".

Bradley said National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected at the crash scene by Sunday afternoon to begin investigating the cause.

Papillon chief executive Brenda Halvorson said in a statement: "It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident".

The Nevada-based company says it cooperating fully with investigators.

With additional reporting from Press Association.