Two US tourists died Wednesday when the helicopter carrying them over Australia's Great Barrier Reef smacked into the water some 40 miles northeast of the Whitsunday Islands, authorities say. The Whitsunday Air Services helicopter was approaching a pontoon atop the Great Barrier Reef when it dropped about 650 feet away, Yahoo7 reports. The 35-year-old male pilot escaped and was seen pulling a 65-year-old woman from the chopper as it sank. Her 79-year-old husband was also recovered, but both died despite attempts to resuscitate them, a police inspector tells the AP. The Hawaiian couple's 33-year-old daughter and her 34-year-old boyfriend, both from Colorado, escaped with non-life threatening injuries, reports ABC Australia.
Whitsunday Air Services CEO Brad Graves says the company is "devastated" but has yet to determine what went wrong with the single-engine Eurocopter EC120 Colibri. Australian Transport Safety Bureau Commissioner Greg Hood says investigators will "recover the helicopter from the seabed and then commence piecing together the evidence … in this tragic accident." It isn't the company’s first. Another of its helicopters crash-landed in water in November when its engine partially lost power, though no one was injured. A plane owned by a registered business of Whitsunday Air Services also bounced on water then crashed into trees in the Whitsundays in January 2016, leaving one passenger with minor injuries. That crash is still under investigation. (Read more helicopter crash stories.)