Thursday, Oct 23, 2014    

Maui Air executive offers sympathy for Lanai crash victims

By Rosemarie Bernardo

POSTED: 10:31 a.m. HST, Mar 04, 2014

The ex-wife and longtime business partner of the late Maui Air pilot Richard Rooney said this is a difficult time for all the families whose loved ones died or were injured in Wednesday night's charter plane crash on Lanai. 

"My prayers go out to all the friends and family members of all the passengers on that flight," Sheila Magers said in a written statement, her first since last week's tragedy.

"We are all grieving," she said. "Families either lost their loved ones or they are in the hospital. I lost the man I loved and worked with for 27 years. Our prayers are for them."

Magers and Rooney were married for about 25 years but divorced in December, she said.

Rooney was one of three people killed in Wednesday's plane crash on central Lanai. Two Maui Planning Department employees, Kathleen Kern, 50, and Tremaine Balberdi, 53, also died in the crash. 

Three survivors were transported to Queen's Medical Center. Deputy Corporation Counsel James Giroux suffered serious injuries. Douglas Miller, a planner with the planning department, and Mark King, a geographic information systems analyst with the department, suffered critical injuries. 

The twin-engine 10-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain plane went down in an area known as Miki Basin shortly after takeoff from Lanai Airport.

Magers wrote that she does not know what caused the charter flight to go down. "Maui Air is cooperating fully with the FAA and the NTSB to understand what took place," she said. 

Kahului-based Maui Air was established in June 1993 and offers volcano tours over Kilauea and "eco flights" to Hana, Haleakala, Mauna Loa and Hilo, according to its website.

Magers registered the parent company, Maui Island Air Inc., to do business as Maui Air and Volcano Air Tours.

Rooney was listed in state business registration records as president of the company, and Magers as its vice president and 50 percent co-owner.

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CORRECTION: Sheila Magers and Richard Rooney divorced in December after about 25 years of marriage. An earlier version of this story and its headline referred to her as his wife.

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