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Lone Survivor of Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash Returns to New York
Associated Press

1/15/2002

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The sole survivor of a Grand Canyon sightseeing helicopter crash was returned Tuesday to New York for further treatment, saying she's sure God had a reason to spare her.

Chana Daskal, 25, was discharged from University Medical Center in Las Vegas after a five-month stay and flown cross-country in an air ambulance. She was admitted in critical but stable condition to the Staten Island University Medical Center regional burn center, said Dr. Jerome Finkelstein, burn center director.

Daskal, the Brooklyn mother of two boys - Gary Eli, 5, and Avi, 8 months old - still is being treated for burns over 80 percent of her body, a broken spine and an amputated leg.

She issued a statement in Las Vegas, saying she's sure God had a reason to spare her life and thanking the rescuers, doctors, nurses, family and friends "who circled me with their love and their prayers."

"Without them, I would not have had the strength to survive everything that has happened to me," she said.

Daskal left McCarran International Airport in a medically equipped Learjet about 2 a.m., University Medical Center spokesman Rick Plummer said.

She arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York and was transferred on the tarmac to a waiting ambulance that took her to Staten Island. A spokesman for the ambulance company said she was accompanied on the flight by an official of the Staten Island hospital and nurses trained to deal with burns.

In her statement, Daskal praised those who rescued, treated and supported her as "kind and patient ... always offering encouragement and always treat(ing) me respectfully."

Daskal's husband, David, was one of six people killed in the Aug. 10 crash near Meadview, Ariz., about 60 miles east of Las Vegas.

Also killed were Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours pilot Kevin Innocenti, 27, of Henderson, Nev., and four other New York tourists - Shayie Lichtenstein, Avi and Barbara Wajsbaum and Aryeh Zvi Fastag.

The group was returning to Las Vegas from an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon when the helicopter crashed on the rocky edge of a cliff.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released the findings of its investigation of the crash.

Daskal's lawyers in October filed a lawsuit alleging engine malfunction and possible pilot error.

The suit names the Las Vegas-based helicopter tour company, the estate of the dead pilot and the helicopter manufacturers: American Eurocopter Corp. and Turbomeca Engine Corp., of Prairie, Texas; and Zuni LLC, a Washington-based helicopter retailer.



 




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