Hawaii Helicopter Crash Victims Identified by U.S. Navy Contractor

by Maria Hartfield

A Hawaii helicopter crash ends in tragedy claiming four lives on Tuesday. Also, the military-contracted helicopter was flying in support of a range training operation near Barking Sands on Kauai.

Croman Corporation, a civilian contractor working for the U.S. Navy confirmed the names of the four people killed in the fatal crash. The aircraft’s pilot is 64-year-old Daniel Maurice of Lyle, Washington. Also, the remaining three employees onboard were Patrick Rader, 55, Ericka Tevex-Valdez, 42, and Matthew Haider, 44. Sadly, no one survived the terrible accident.

According to Croman Corp., the crew was working on routine training operations under contract with the Navy. And they were flying a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) when the aircraft crashed after 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The PMRF website states that it “is the world’s largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supporting surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.”

“PMRF is the only range in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously,” the Navy added. 

The facility released a statement confirming the helicopter was flying in support of a range operating crash near the Barking Sands Installation.

Hawaii helicopter pilot weighs in on the incident

Mechanic Matthew Haider, originally from Springfield, Oregan leaves behind a wife and two children from a previous marriage (The Associated Press). His mom, Penny Haider described him as “a very action-oriented type of person,” she told The Associated Press. “Even though this work was intense, he thrived on that intensity.” The helicopter mechanic lived on Kauai for two years.

Retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot Ray L’Heureux has over 30 years of experience flying helicopters similar to the Sikorsky S-61N involved in the crash. He opened up in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his opinions on the unfortunate event.

“There’s a myriad of things that could have gone wrong. Control issues, automatic flight control issues,” said L’Heureux adding there could have also been an issue with the tail rotor. “That’s the first thing that comes to my mind.”

L’Heureux continued saying, “If you lose that tail rotor or you lose authority to that tail rotor then the aircraft will start spinning. And that’s probably the worst-case scenario for a helicopter pilot.”

The seasoned pilot made sure to note the crew involved in the accident were not without experience. “They had a lot of time under their belt,” said L’Heureux. “There’s no doubt in my mind they were [trained] and had all the attributes to pull off that mission.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash and will release a preliminary report next month.