Helicopter Crashes Off Kaanapali On Maui,Hawaii

A helicopter pilot – attempting to rescue two Australian seamen who parachuted into the ocean off the Kaanapali coast -- was injured Saturday (Nov. 20) when his bird plunged into the sea.

The two seamen were Sub-Lieutenants Robert Cason and Gary Rickwood, from the visiting Australian war ship, the Torrens, who had come to Kaanapali to do some sky diving.

Shortly after 5 p.m., they parachuted from 5,000 feet from a small private plane piloted by Don MacKay. They dropped into the ocean about one-quarter mile offshore of the Maui Surf Hotel and about half a mile from each other.

Noticing that the men appeared to be in trouble, MacKay returned to Kaanapali Airport, where he contacted George Jones of Hawaii Helicopters International on Maui.

With Jones at the controls, they flew back to the men. Hovering about 50 feet off the water, they lowered a harness to Rickwood. At this point, the machine tilted to one side and plunged into the ocean.

Several boats sped to help. First on the scene was an Australian launch followed by the Diver II from the Lahaína Dive Shop. Aboard the Diver II were Dick Thompson, Mike Stevenson, Randy Miller and Tod Liddy.

Liddy dove into the water and helped Jones and Rickwood aboard the Australian launch. MacKay also was picked up and the men were taken to Lahaina harbor in the launch.

Jones was taken to Maui Memorial Hospital with broken ribs and a broken leg. His condition was listed as "satisfactory". Rickwood and MacKay appeared to be uninjured.

When it became apparent that Cason still was missing, the Coast Guard ship, Newagen, searched the crash area, accompanied by Little Egypt from the Lahaina harbor.

At 8:13 p.m. the Coast Guard spotted the electric light attached to the life vest worn by Cason. He still was attached to his parachute, which was dragging him further out to sea. He was about three miles off shore.

He was exhausted, but otherwise in good condition.

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