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State Health Director killed in plane crash, 8 others survive

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 09:17 p.m. HST, Dec 11, 2013

State Health Department Director Loretta Fuddy died in a Makani Kai commuter airplane crash this afternoon off Kalaupapa in which eight other people -- including the pilot -- survived.

Fuddy's death was confirmed to the Star-Advertiser by several sources. 

Sometime before 4 p.m., a Honolulu-bound Cessna Grand Caravan carrying eight passengers and the pilot crashed about a half-mile off Molokai's north shore after taking off from Kalaupapa, officials said.

Richard Schuman, president of Makani Kai, said a pilot flying over the crash site about half-mile offshore observed eight passengers in the water with life vests, he said.

Soon after the crash, Schuman said "initial indications" were that everyone made it out of the aircraft, but a Maui Fire Department spokesman later confirmed that there was one fatality.

Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said three survivors were taken to Oahu, three went to Molokai General Hospital and two declined treatment and remained on Kalaupapa.

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services said paramedics took two people -- a 74-year-old female and a 39-year-old male -- in stable condition to an Oahu hospital at about 6:30 p.m. from Honolulu Airport. A third person was medavaced directly to an Oahu hospital.

Schuman said the pilot survived and called him after the crash. The pilot was flown to Oahu and drove himself to the Queen's Medical Center to be checked out, Schuman said.

He said the pilot was "very experienced" and previously worked for Aloha Airlines.

Schuman said the plane took off from Kalaupapa for Oahu at about 3:45 p.m.

Fuddy became acting health director in January, after the governor's original nominee, Dr. Neal Palafox, withdrew his name at Abercrombie's request in January 2011. Just after being appointed and confirmed as director, Fuddy was involved in the release of President Barack Obama's birth certificate, at the president's request, in April 2011.

Besides Fuddy, Health Department Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto was also on board.

Yamamoto, dressed in blue swim trunks and a T-shirt, was seen being driven away from Makani Air's Honolulu Airport headquarters at about 7 p.m. 

A Coast Guard official confirmed nine people were on board, that one person swam to shore and that rescue crews pulled the other eight out of the water, but he would not give any details on their conditions.

Crews from the Coast Guard and a Maui Fire Department helicopter responded, with the Coast Guard sending helicopters and C-130 aircraft.

MFD officials said the plane went down about a half-mile northwest of Kalaupapa and eight people were seen in the water with lifevests.

A Health Department spokeswoman confirmed Fuddy and Yamamoto were on the flight, and had said early this evening that the department had been told that both had survived.

However confirmation of Fuddy's death came after 8 p.m.

Makani Kai Air, established by Schuman Aviation Co. in 2009, uses two Cessna Grand Caravan turbine aircraft, two Piper Chieftain twin-engine airplanes, two Eurocopter AS-350 A-Stars, and an MD500. The parent company also operates Makani Kai Helicopters.

In June, Makani Kai Air expanded its Molokai service to offer five daily round-trip flights between Honolulu and Kalaupapa. 

According to Makani Kai Air's website, the Cessna 208 Caravan is a single turboprop engine, fixed-gear short-haul aircraft built in the United States by Cessna. The airplane seats up to nine passengers and a pilot.

According to FAA records, the plane that crashed was manufactured in 2002. Its last airworthiness certificate was issued in 2008 and is valid until 2015.

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honokai wrote:
And as everyone recalls, a Mokulele Grand Caravan with eight passengers and two crew landed on a highway on Maui in October.
on December 11,2013 | 04:02PM
Maleka50 wrote:
WHY would anyone board a single engine aircraft with a capacity of nine?
on December 11,2013 | 04:18PM
honokai wrote:
Well, I suppose if you had to pick a commercial passenger plane to ditch in the ocean or land on a country highway --- this would be the one.
on December 11,2013 | 04:41PM
eoe wrote:
Exactly, repeat this with an A330 - not everyone is Sully.
on December 11,2013 | 04:51PM
WaialaeGuy wrote:
I doubt that the airfield can support an A330 (which would be too large for this run).
on December 11,2013 | 09:44PM
Mikilai wrote:
true, they dont realize its safer landing with the prop planes
on December 11,2013 | 05:26PM
WaialaeGuy wrote:
If that is the only way you can fly into the place, you take it.
on December 11,2013 | 09:43PM
hornswoggler wrote:
The FAA needs to review their decision to allow single engine aircraft like this to be flown in airline service. Glad to hear everyone survived.
on December 11,2013 | 04:47PM
bigwalton15 wrote:
Ban cars while you're at it. They were safer in the plane then they were on their drive to the airport
on December 11,2013 | 05:03PM
honokai wrote:
Their car got them to the airport. Their plane put them in the ocean, So while I get your point, it does not apply in this instance.
on December 11,2013 | 05:11PM
WaialaeGuy wrote:
One accident, that just happened, does not make a particular type of plane unsafe (particularly before the investigation)!
on December 11,2013 | 09:47PM
hornswoggler wrote:
And a multi-engine aircraft is safer than one with a single engine, why allow them in airline service then? To save a few dollars? To make more profit for the operator? to get a cheaper ticket? Now that it's being reported that someone perished, was it worth it? If this airplane had been a twin turboprop we wouldn't be commenting in a newspaper right now.
on December 11,2013 | 05:25PM
honokai wrote:
I think your comments on the operator are a bit out of place at this point. There hasn't even been an investigation yet. And I would give most involved involved in the aviation business the benefit of the doubt. They are providing an essential service to the people of Molokai. So let's withhold judgment at this point.
on December 11,2013 | 05:33PM
First-Responder wrote:
Well said. Shame on anyone who renders an early opinion.
on December 11,2013 | 06:12PM
hornswoggler wrote:
Sorry, not knocking the operator or the airplane. IMO the type has its place, just not flying paying passengers.
on December 11,2013 | 06:19PM
WaialaeGuy wrote:
Your opinion may not hold water with small airline or charter operators.
on December 11,2013 | 09:48PM
2NDC wrote:
Uh, one person died. Please read the article.
on December 11,2013 | 07:46PM
honokai wrote:
With the latest update, the story no longer has any lightness to it. This is a terrible tragedy.
on December 11,2013 | 04:59PM
First-Responder wrote:
This is no time for speculation or admonishment. A terrible accident has occurred and a precious life was lost. I've flown that route and in those aircraft many, many times. I pray for those who survived with gratitude and for the family of the one lost. Sad day.
on December 11,2013 | 06:10PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.
on December 11,2013 | 06:33PM
slowroll323 wrote:
All the facts of this accident are not known yet. Please don't rush to judgement. Makani Kai is a reputable company. The owner is a kanaka pono.
on December 11,2013 | 07:28PM
Canefire wrote:
If it is the same owner of Schuman Carriage that closed down few years ago, I would not agree the same.
on December 11,2013 | 08:24PM
Mypualani wrote:
Thank you for that comment. I felt so bad for him when he was interviewed and told that there was a fatality. He was told all passengers were accounted for. My thoughts and prayers for the families affected by this tragedy.
on December 11,2013 | 09:41PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Consommé we to the families of the deceased, Sad and without perusing the details, I suppose the flight had to do with the Kalaupapa settlement. This is front page news. First, why does a high ranking official need to go on a flight that entailed a lot of risk. Isn't this company represented in Hawaii Five-O ??
on December 11,2013 | 07:39PM
WaialaeGuy wrote:
You wish to bring broth to the bereaved?
on December 11,2013 | 09:50PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
lol spell checker. I typed condolences and this Steve Jobs creation called an iPhone 5 gave me that, so I figured it sounded okay and I let it go.
on December 11,2013 | 10:10PM
awahana wrote:
iOS 7 is another tragedy. Switched away this year to another platform.
on December 12,2013 | 05:39AM
Skyler wrote:
Condolences to the family of the deceased. But auwe to whoever wrote/edited this article... grammar school quality, @ best.
on December 11,2013 | 08:29PM
entrkn wrote:
The Cessna Grand Caravan is one of the sturdiest and most reliable airplanes flying. However Mokulele had an engine failure after taking off from Kahului recently and this incident appears to be engine failure related. So why would two of the most reliable airplanes flying with the same engines have engine failures in the same general area and no where else?
on December 11,2013 | 08:42PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I see u r flapping ur pilots wings.
on December 11,2013 | 10:01PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Well I drive the Limo that occasionally picks up dignitaries such as Cayetano.
on December 11,2013 | 10:04PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The Lexus LS 460 is the top of the line model from Toyota Motor Corp. selling for MSRP mid seventy thousands. However even this luxurious Vehicle will not survive the skills of a drunken driver. Me, I only drive the 2005 Lexus LS 430, so I am given a pass.
on December 11,2013 | 10:07PM
awahana wrote:
Much like Sony and Apple, premium price for substandard quality.

After all the headaches we've had the past few years with our Toyotas and Lexus, we got rid of them, and we are no longer a Toyota family. Toyota is for noobs.
on December 12,2013 | 05:50AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
How terrible a way to die such as that....condolences and sympathies to family and friends of Director Fuddy.....
on December 11,2013 | 08:59PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Cheap means cheap. Fly Hawaiian.
on December 11,2013 | 09:57PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Cheap means cheap, so do not skimp by flying with commuter airlines. Fly a major airline such as Delta although Delta does not fly from Molokai to Oahu. Maybe fly what's available to Maui, then fly from Maui to Oahu on Hawaiian.
on December 11,2013 | 10:00PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 11,2013 | 10:02PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Your coldness is terribly sad. A little compassion for others, though, can save you. Give it a try.
on December 11,2013 | 10:57PM
User 4 wrote:
Keep it clean and respectful. This is your first warning.
on December 12,2013 | 11:47AM
Sid_Hartha wrote:
A loaded, twin-engine prop plane would drop really fast if one engine failed. There's just not enough power to compensate plus the aerodynamics would be all out of whack.
on December 12,2013 | 02:37AM
AJArmitage wrote:
This is terribly tragic and I can't imagine the horror that Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto went through. Why did you think it was necessary to comment on what he was wearing? That just insults his dignity. Obviously, those were clothes given to him to replace the ones that he was wearing on the plane that got ruined. Shame on you. That is NOT good journalism.
on December 12,2013 | 06:23AM
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