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Divers recover bodies of hang glider crash victims

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 05:37 p.m. HST, Feb 16, 2011

Kauai Fire Department divers today recovered two bodies believed to be the victims from a light sport aircraft that crashed yesterday into waters off of south shore of Kauai.

The aircraft was being piloted by Jim Gaither, 55, of Hanapepe, the owner of Big Sky Kauai, a company that offers tours and lessons from the Port Allen Airport. The Coast Guard and Kauai County identified the woman passenger in the crashed glider as 49-year-old Kim Buergel of Spokane, Wash.

A kayaker reported seeing the aircraft go into the ocean at 11:41 a.m. yesterday, about 200 yards offshore of the Port Allen Airport. 

The search was concentrated approximately 200 yards from the southern shoreline today in the vicinity of Kauai Coffee Company in Kalaheo.  A side sonar scan picked up images of the ocean floor, launching divers to the site, according to a news release. The bodies, a male and a female, were recovered in an area known as Big Flats. 

The missing aircraft's motor was also located in proximity of the bodies. 

"Our condolences go out to the families of the victims who have waited patiently for results of the search," Kauai Fire Chief Bob Westerman said in a news release.

"Obviously this is a terrible loss for them. Hopefully, the recovery of the remains can provide some closure," said Westerman.

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