3 dead in helicopter crash in Grand Canyon

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Three people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon, according to Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley. (Source: Teddy Fujimoto) Three people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon, according to Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley. (Source: Teddy Fujimoto)
Three people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon, according to Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley. (Source: Teddy Fujimoto) Three people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon, according to Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley. (Source: Teddy Fujimoto)
(Source: Mohave County Sheriff's Office) (Source: Mohave County Sheriff's Office)
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -

Three people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon, according to Hualapai Nation police Chief Francis Bradley.

Six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters chopper when it crashed around 5:20 p.m. Saturday on the Hualapai Nation near Quartermaster Canyon, Bradley said to The Associated Press.

Three of them were confirmed dead.

The four who were injured were level 1 trauma patients and were being treated at the scene. Officials say they were then airlifted to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in critical condition.

The helicopter, a Eurocopter EC130, crashed under unknown circumstances, according to Allen Kenitzer with the FAA Office of Communications.

The aircraft sustained substantial damage, according to Kenitzer.

Papillon's website says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it "abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration."

Papillon's CEO Brenda Halvorson released a statement on behalf of the company Sunday afternoon.

“It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident. Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff. Family members seeking immediate assistance, please call 1-866-512-9121. We are cooperating fully with NTSB investigators and local authorities.” -Brenda Halvorson, Chief Executive Officer, Papillon Group

Longtime helicopter crash lawyer Gary C. Robb represented a woman badly burned in a deadly Papillion crash at the Grand Canyon in 2001. He said the company has made big improvements since that crash.

"They've improved their piloting qualifications as well as their maintenance over the last 10 years and as far as I know they've not had a crash since 2001," Robb said to the Associated Press. He said flying in the Grand Canyon can be treacherous simply because of the number of helicopters there.

Robb said his heart went out to the victims.

"This is not just the fact that a helicopter crashed, this is a human tragedy. People died and were horribly injured. It's a tragedy for human beings," Robb said.

First responders were on the scene. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the crash. 

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