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Vegas crash victims include 2 couples celebrating their marriages

December 12, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Las Vegas sightseeing helicopter crash

As much as Las Vegas has promoted itself as Sin City, it’s also considered a top destination for couples celebrating their commitment.

So it might come as little surprise that last week two couples in town to mark their nuptials boarded a helicopter for a sunset tour of the Las Vegas Strip and the Hoover Dam. One couple had been married for a month, the other for 25 years.

What should have been a routine sightseeing trip ended in a fiery crash. The Eurocopter AS-350, operated by Sundance Helicopters, suddenly climbed, made a sharp turn and plummeted into an isolated ravine outside Lake Mead, killing both couples and the pilot.

Federal investigators have not said what caused the crash, though they did tell reporters that as part of routine maintenance the helicopter’s engines and mechanical control devices had been replaced the day before. Sundance Helicopters has been involved in at least one other fatal accident.

Over the weekend, authorities identified one couple as Lovish Bhanot and Anupama Bhola of Gurgaon, India, the Associated Press reported. They were married Nov. 6 and were spending their honeymoon in Las Vegas. Bhanot, 28, ran a real estate company, and Bhola, 26, worked as a flight attendant.

They were joined by Delwin and Tamara Chapman of Utica, Kan. The Chapmans, both 49, were in town to renew their vows after a quarter-century of marriage, the AP said. Delwin Chapman ran a construction company and his wife had just closed her salon. The couple had four daughters.

The canyon in which the helicopter was found was so remote that authorities could access it only by helicopter and all-terrain vehicles. The pilot, Landon Nield, 31, had worked for Sundance for several years. He and his wife, Gabriela, were married in June.


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Photo: In this Dec. 10 photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators examine the wreckage of a sightseeing tour helicopter from Las Vegas that crashed Dec. 7 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada near the Hoover Dam. The crash killed the pilot and four tourists. Credit: NTSB