US & Canada

Kansas couple among Las Vegas helicopter crash dead

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Media captionNational Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz says rangers saw smoke rising from the crash site

A Kansas couple are among five people dead after a tour helicopter crashed outside Las Vegas.

Delwin and Tamara Chapman, from Utica, Kansas, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, family members said.

Authorities say all five bodies have been recovered from the crash site.

The aircraft was touring the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam at sunset with four tourists and a pilot aboard when it crashed on a hillside.

It is not known what caused the crash, which happened on Wednesday evening about four miles (6.4km) west of Lake Mead.

Ron Solze, whose son is married to one of the Chapmans' four daughters, told the Associated Press news agency that the couple were well-known and liked in their small town.

Delwin Chapman ran a construction business and Tamara recently closed a hairstyling shop.

Pilot Landon Nield, 31, was a Mormon and father of two who married in June.

Authorities have not disclosed the identities of the other two victims.

History of crashes

The search began on Thursday morning at the remote crash site, which is about 30 miles from the city and not accessible by road.

A park ranger visited the site to protect the bodies and debris overnight.

The group were on a 30-minute tour - which cost of $210 (£134) per person. Weather conditions were favourable with clear skies and light wind.

The helicopter, which took off from McCarran International Airport, crashed just before 17:00 (01:00 GMT).

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the helicopter was an AS-350, a model that can carry up to six passengers and is often used for such tours.

The sightseeing trip was conducted by Sundance Helicopters, which has a fleet of 23 helicopters and flies more than 160,000 passengers a year, its website says.

The helicopter company, Sundance Helicopters, has had accidents before.

A pilot and six passengers died in September 2003 when a helicopter hit a canyon wall.

In 2009, a Sundance helicopter made a safe emergency landing when the controls suggested an electrical problem; nobody was hurt.