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Father says son moved to Hawaii to fly tour helicopters

HONOLULU — A 28-year-old man who moved to Hawaii two weeks ago from New Mexico was the pilot who died along with two passengers when a tour helicopter crashed on a street in a Honolulu suburb, his father said Tuesday.

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, his father, Bobby Berridge, told The Associated Press from Garfield, New Mexico, where his son grew up on a 250-acre (101-hectare) farm.

“It was always my son’s dream to go to Hawaii and fly tours for a couple of years,” Bobby Berridge said. His son’s girlfriend and dog were preparing to join him.

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 pilot 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 says 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.

“I don’t know what happened with the crash, but he was a great helicopter pilot and he knew what he was doing,” Bobby Berridge said. “I’m not going to point fingers at this time.”

His son loved helicopters and also had an instructor’s license. “I talked to him about three or four days ago. He was on the beach enjoying life,” Bobby Berridge said. “He said, ‘Who has it better than I do?’”

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