Friends, family mourn teen killed in helicopter crash near Arizona Memorial

Riley Dobson and Chelsey Hillis (Photo: Chelsey Hillis)


Friends and family are mourning the loss of a teenage boy who died following Thursday’s helicopter crash near the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

He was one of five people in the tour helicopter.

Gidget Ruscetta, chief operating officer, Pali Momi Medical Center, confirmed the 16-year-old was pronounced dead Monday, Feb. 22:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that the 16-year-old involved in Thursday’s helicopter crash was pronounced dead today at Pali Momi Medical Center. Two family members remain in stable condition and continue to receive care at Pali Momi. Another family member was treated Thursday at an area hospital and released.

So that the 16-year-old’s memory lives on, the family has chosen to donate his organs to patients in need. No additional information regarding the family’s medical condition will be released at this time.

Officials with the boy’s school identified him as Riley Dobson. The teenager was a high school student in Ontario, Canada.

It was a somber day at the Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute. On campus, the school flew the flag at half-staff Tuesday in his honor.

Students were told one of their fellow students died while on vacation with his family in Hawaii.

“The whole class kind went silent when we heard the news of what happened,” said a student.

“People were crying and it’s been, it touched everyone, I think,” said another student.

KHON2 also reached out to Dobson’s girlfriend in Canada. Chelsey Hillis told us she is heartbroken and devastated.

“He was amazing, treated me like I was his princess, and I will love him forever and always,” she wrote.

Dobson’s mother, Dianna, also sent her messages of support: “Stay strong Kiddo! I believe he will always be with us, watching over us.”

At his school, located in a city called Guelph, about 60 miles west of Toronto, officials offered counseling for students and staff members.

We’ve learned that Dobson was an avid horseback rider, and was known in Ontario for competing in show jumping. He trained at a place called Lions’ Bridge Stable.

The owner there said, “The world has lost one of the most fantastic young people I have ever met.”

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are inspecting the wreckage to determine what happened.

Jeff Gebhard, owner of Genesis Helicopters, issued the following statement Monday:

… No words can express the absolute heartache and sorrow we’re feeling at the passing of their son. As a parent, I can only imagine the indescribable loss they’re experiencing right now. We are beyond devastated. We can only express that our constant thoughts and the deepest of our condolences are with his family and all of those that have been affected by this tragedy.

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