New Mexico

Las Cruces native, NMSU grad killed in Hawaii helicopter crash

Las Cruces native NMSU grad killed in...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA + AP) - A 28-year-old pilot who moved from New Mexico to Hawaii two weeks ago died along with two passengers when a tour helicopter crashed on a street in a Honolulu suburb Monday.

Joseph Berridge, who moved from Albuquerque to Honolulu, was the pilot of a four-seat Robinson R44 aircraft that crashed Monday morning on a residential two-lane road in Kailua.

Josesph Berridge's father, Bobby Berridge, told ABC-7 Joseph Berridge was born in Las Cruces. He played football and basketball for a high school in Garfield, New Mexico.

After attending New Mexico State University for two year, we went on to learn how to fly a helicopter.

"The first time we ever took him to the school his eyes lit up and he got off that helicopter and he said 'Dad this is what I want to do with my life. This is my calling' and he was happiest up in the air flying helicopters," Joseph Berridge's father told ABC-7.

Jospeh Berridge flew a helicopter contracted by KOB in Abuquerque, then took the job in Hawaii.

Breaking down into tears, Joseph Berridge's father recalled the last conversation he had with him, "He was on the beach and he said 'Dad, who has it better than I do? Nobody.'" Bobby Berridge told ABC-7, "My son was happiest in Hawaii."

Joseph Berridge's girlfriend, Chelsea, and his dog, Lucious, were set to join him in Hawaii.

"He was going to marry her while he was out in Hawaii and they were going to start their life together," Bobby Berridge said.

The pilot and one of two female passengers in a fatal Hawaii helicopter crash have been identified by Honolulu’s Medical Examiner’s office. The department said Tuesday that Joseph Berridge and 28-year-old Ryan McAuliffe, of Chicago, were killed in the Monday crash on a residential street in Kailua, a Honolulu suburb.

Officials also said that autopsies found all three people aboard the helicopter died of injuries from the crash. They said identification of the final passenger is pending.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, which helps tourists, told Hawaii News Now one passenger was from Australia and another was visiting from the U.S. mainland.

Bobby Berridge said his son’s employer, Novictor Helicopters, contacted his son’s girlfriend about the crash. CEO and chief pilot Nicole Vandelaar declined to confirm the pilot’s name.

“This accident is heartbreaking for everyone, especially the families and friends of the passengers and pilot, who was part of our Novictor family,” Vandelaar said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.”

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the crash site Tuesday.

"We want to know the truth, whatever the truth is. If it was my son's fault, then it was my son's fault, but if it was the helicopter, it's the helicopter," Bobby Berridge said. "We want closure on what exactly happened to cause this tragic accident and what we can do to make sure it never happened again."



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