"First and foremost our hearts go out to those impacted by this horrific crash here today and quite low on the loot in Mass. The little unit was responding on another call right here when they heard a horrific bang. They turned around and they saw the helicopter on fire. When they got there neighbors were doing a heroic job trying to put out the fire and also trying to get the patients away from the burning aircraft.
4. Firetruck, onlookers
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5. SOUNDBITE (English) Megan Lacy, heard crash:
"So we came out and we looked at the car. And we were really confused. And then we heard screaming and the word fire and I saw smoke over there and so we walked over to the corner and we saw a helicopter on fire."
"EMS assisted, got two of the patients from the burning aircraft. But at that time the two were deceased. At this time we do know that there are a total of three fatalities. And the investigation will be going to the NTSB as well as the FAA."
Fire and helicopter parts rained from the sky Monday in a suburban Honolulu community in a crash that killed three people aboard, officials and witnesses said.
"I heard a loud popping sound in a crash. I was right around the corner, I saw it, dive down hit the ground. Terrible. said witness Michael Fernandez, who lives in the area.
Paramedics responding to an unrelated call about 30 yards (27 meters) away heard "a horrific bang," said Shayne Enright, a spokeswoman for Honolulu Emergency Medical Services. When they turned around, they saw a helicopter on fire.
"When they got there, neighbors were doing a heroic job trying to put out the fire and also trying to get the patients away from the burning aircraft," Enright said.
Debris damaged a rental car about 100 yards (90 meters) from the crash.
Megan Lacy of Alabama was visiting friends when they heard the crash. They went outside, expecting to find two cars after they had hit each other.
"We were really confused," she said. "And then we heard screaming and the word 'fire,' and I saw smoke," she said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency believes three people were on board the four-seat, Robinson R44 aircraft.
He said the circumstances of the crash were unknown.
No further details were available on those killed.
The helicopter, which was built in 2000, is registered to United Helicopter Leasing LLC of Honolulu, according to FAA records.
The crash occurred in Kailua, a town of 50,000 people about a 30-minute drive from downtown Honolulu.
Former President Barack Obama stayed at a rented beach front vacation home in the town during the winter holidays when he was in the White House.
The crash site was on a two-lane road amid one and two-story homes. The road connects the commercial center of town with residential areas.
Kailua is home to a Marine Corps base. In recent years it's become a popular destination for tourists to go to the beach, hike and shop.