VIDEO: Lānaʻi Plane Crash Press Conference HighlightsFebruary 27, 2014, 1:54 PM HST · Updated February 27, 10:33 PM 0 Comments
By Wendy Osher
“This is a tragedy that has stunned our community, but we are also thankful for those whose lives were spared,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa who hosted a press conference to share information on Wednesday’s deadly plane crash on the island of Lānaʻi.
“What I can say is this — we lost two of our own last night. One of them was a long-time employee who worked for us for decades. The other was a bright young planner who was dedicated to her job in serving the public,” said Mayor Arakawa as he held back tears during the event.
“The entire county mourns for their losses and for the pilot who also died in the crash. Our hearts go out to his family as well. We would also like to wish the three people that are being treated at the Queens Medical Center a speedy recovery,” he said.
According to the mayor, Managing Director Keith Regan was sent along with a team from the county to Oʻahu to meet with the survivors to see how they are doing, and to provide support in getting through the healing process.
“For the rest of our county family, especially our Planning Department and Corporation Counsel, we will be making grief counselors available for anyone who needs them either here on Maui or on Lānaʻi,” said Arakawa.
According to the mayor, the three survivors are being treated for second and third degree burns on their face and hands, the severity of which varies among them.
“We may have had more casualties if one of the survivors had not been able to move the other two away from the flames. He was also the one who called 9-1-1 as soon as he was able, which enabled the emergency crews to attend to the injured quickly,” said Arakawa.
County Communications Director Rod Antone said that while many media sources are already privy to names of victims, he said the County cannot confirm that information at this time. “There is a police procedure that is in place for identifying victims that we are trying to respect,” said Antone who also explained that circumstances and the cause surrounding the crash would be left up to federal investigators.
Michele McLean, Deputy Planning Director for the County of Maui said the atmosphere in the office today was hard to describe. “We started the day… the Director and I came in early so that we would be there when the first employees came in. Also the Chaplain from MPD came with us. We just tried to make contact with all of our employees as everyone came in,” said McLean.
“We are devastated. There really isn’t anything more to say other than that,” said McLean.
In concluding his statements, Mayor Arakawa said, “we’re just going to have to work through this. There’s no easy way to get through any of this. It’s like deaths in the family–you know what’s going to happen at some point (but) until it actually happens, there’s just no way of dealing with it. Each individual has to deal with it in their own way.”
“It’s going to be a long day. We’re just trying to make sure to listen to what’s coming back as information comes to us and we’ll digest it as we can,” said Mayor Arakawa.
***Check back for further video clips from other department administrators and first responders, which will be posted shortly. A complete file of photos from today’s press conference is also available on our Maui Now Facebook page.