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4 killed in helicopter crash on St Thomas, USVI

- pilot identified as Maria Rodriguez
Kenney Chesney and Maria Rodriguez. Mr. Chesney shared pictures of his friend in a tribute to her on Facebook Monday evening that has so far garnered over 5,000 shares and 304,000 reactions. Photo: Kenny Chesney/Facebook
Emergency personnel at Botany Bay, St Thomas, the scene of a deadly helicopter crash that occurred during the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021. Photo: Kyle Murphy/VI Consortium
Emergency personnel at Botany Bay, St Thomas, the scene of a deadly helicopter crash that occurred during the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021. Photo: Kyle Murphy/VI Consortium

BOTANY BAY, St Thomas, USVI — A helicopter crashed at Botany Bay, in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) Monday afternoon, February 15, 2021, has left at least four individuals dead, including the pilot.

Maria Rodriguez, who was the pilot, reportedly perished, along with a family of three after the helicopter went down on St Thomas after a flight from St John.

Country music star Kenny Chesney mourns

Country music star and regular visitor to the US Virgin Islands, Kenny Chesney, in a post on Facebook Monday evening said he was saddened by the death of Rodriguez.

Mr Chesney, 52, has a home on St John and spends a considerable amount of time on the island. "Today I have to say a very hard goodbye to my friend Maria Rodriguez in the Virgin Islands. Maria and others were killed today in a helicopter crash in St Thomas. She was a dear friend to me and to our island community. I have been flying with Maria for over 15 years and we shared a lot of laughs and a lot of life together," Mr Chesney wrote on Facebook Monday.

He added, "She was always the first person I saw when I landed and the last person I said goodbye to when I would leave island. I’m sure going to miss that. It’s fair to say I won’t ever be able to go to the Virgin Islands again without feeling the loss of her. She was such a huge part of my island life.

"So goodbye sweet friend. I’m sure glad our paths crossed on this side. See you on the other."

4 confirmed dead

A Consortium reporter as of 6:32 pm Monday was in the vicinity of the scene of the accident, however, emergency personnel had cordoned off a broad area.

The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) said in a release issued at about 6:24 pm Monday that a number of local emergency responders were on the scene, including VITEMA, VI Fire Service, VI Port Authority and the [US]VI Police Department. VITEMA said the incident occurred at roughly 3:00 pm.

The federal government also had personnel on the scene, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board. St Thomas Rescue was on site as well.

According to a person with knowledge of the matter, at least four people were on the helicopter, including a St Thomas business owner, his wife and son. VITEMA at about 7:36 pm subsequently confirmed in a second news release that four people were on the helicopter, all of whom succumbed to injuries sustained during the tragic incident.

According to the person, first responders are set continue their search and rescue efforts early Tuesday, as visibility diminished Monday night. The helicopter is said to have been completely destroyed during the crash, said the person.

VITEMA said identification of victims would be withheld pending next of kin notification.

8 Responses to “4 killed in helicopter crash on St Thomas, USVI”

  • Blak Alucard (16/02/2021, 14:27) Like (1) Dislike (41) Reply
    In a next life use the ferry services please. Thank me later
  • ccc (16/02/2021, 15:15) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Very very sad
  • Antilles Helicopters - BVI (16/02/2021, 15:22) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    An absolute tragedy.... Our sincerest condolences to the bereaved.
    Maria has added so, so much value to the region and will be mourned by many locally and worldwide.
    Without a doubt whatever caused the accident was out of her control, having had the pleasure of sharing the skies above paradise for some years and Maria's competence, experience, airmanship, etc. was exemplary. RIP whirly-girl
  • Snowpy (16/02/2021, 16:02) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    My Condolences goes out the Family
  • Jerry Teeler (16/02/2021, 17:46) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    And that's a shame. Rest in peace all.
  • Rainbow Visions (16/02/2021, 21:00) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is such sad news. I spent a lot of time flying with Maria over the years, doing aerial photography. I ALWAYS felt safe with her in the pilot’s seat. She was such a good person - it was always a delight to work with her. My sympathy and love to Nicolas and their children. She will be missed.

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