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4 killed in Hawaii crash involving White City helicopter contractor

Officials from a military contractor based in Southern Oregon are headed to Hawaii as part of an investigation into a fatal helicopter crash that the U.S. Navy said killed four people.

Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter crashed on the north side of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands in Kekaha, Hawaii, on the island of Kawaii, according to news releases from the PMRF and the National Transportation Safety Board.

All four individuals aboard the aircraft were killed, the release said.

The four, who worked for the Croman Corporation, were identified Wednesday as Daniel Maurice, 64, the chief pilot and FAA-designated pilot examiner; Patrick Rader, 55, command pilot; Ericka Tevez-Valdez, 42, mechanic and aircrew; and Mathew Haider, 44, mechanic and aircrew.

Maurice was from Lyle, Washington. The other three victims were Kauai residents.

The helicopter was being flown by Croman Corporation of White City in support of a training operation, according to PMRF officials. Croman is a contractor that provides support services for the missile range facility.

The Sikorsky S-61N was built between 1959 and 1980 by Sikorsky Aircraft, which is now part of Lockheed Martin. It was designed to carry a substantial freight or passenger payload. One version was built to carry up to 30 passengers, according to the Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives website.

The helicopters were optimized for use over water, for example to support oil rig operations. Versions were also used by all branches of the U.S. military. Licensees in the United Kingdom and other countries have also built the aircraft.

Brian Beattie, Croman director of operations, said the Sikorsky S-61N had just retrieved an object from the water and was trying to drop it on the ground when something went wrong.

In addition to federal agencies, officials from Croman are investigating and en route to Kauai.

A Kauai County spokesperson said county police and firefighters responded and were assisting the military. Kauai police were helping the Navy with perimeter security and investigation support, said Coco Zickos, a county spokesperson.

An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the crash, the missile range facility release said.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility is a Navy base on the western edge of Kauai where the military tests missile defense technology and various units conduct exercises.