Maui News

Investigation Underway into Cause of Kalaupapa Plane Crash

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Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi map. Map courtesy USGS Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Observatory.

Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi map. The marker is a generalized area of where the incident occurred, and not an exact location. Map courtesy USGS Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Observatory.

By Wendy Osher

The cause of a small plane crash off of Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi Wednesday afternoon will be investigated by both the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board personnel.

A total of nine people were aboard the Makani Kai Air commuter craft when it crashed into the ocean about 300 yards off shore, shortly after departure, according to a preliminary FAA report.

Eight people survived and one individual, later identified as State Health Director Loretta Fuddy, was killed in the crash.


Fuddy served as Hawaiʻi State Health Director since March 2011, and spent 30 years working in health and human services.

The eight survivors were rescued by Maui Fire and US Coast Guard personnel. Three were transported to Oahu; two declined treatment, staying in Kalaupapa; and three went to Molokai General hospital, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the aircraft is “probably not recoverable.” NTSB Public Affairs Officer Eric Weiss said, “The investigation is in the fact-gathering stage with a preliminary report to be issued within two weeks.”

Federal Aviation Administration Pacific Region spokesperson Ian Gregor said the agency plans to speak with the pilot and some of the passengers today.

Loretta Fuddy.

The late State Health Director Loretta Fuddy. Courtesy file photo.


Government leaders continue to send their condolences following the passing of Fuddy including Governor Neil Abercrombie, who released a statement this morning saying:

Our hearts are broken. Loretta was deeply loved and respected. She was selfless, utterly dedicated, and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii. Her knowledge was vast; her counsel and advice always given from her heart as much as from her storehouse of experience. We send our best thoughts to her family and will do all in our power to reflect her professionalism, her love of Hawaii and the high standard she set for herself and all of us.”

State Senator J. Kalani English, whose district includes Molokaʻi, also extended condolences calling Fuddy, “a true public servant and friend of the people.”  He continued, “As the Director of Health, Loretta demonstrated an unwavering support for Hawaii and the people she served. She will be dearly missed.”

State House Speaker Joseph Souki of Maui:

“Director Fuddy was a dedicated public servant with a passion for public health. She led with grace during difficult times, always rising to the challenge, and remaining focused on improving the health of all in the community. She was especially passionate about the most vulnerable in our communities, a champion for mothers, newborns, and early childhood care. Her warm, caring spirit for the people of Hawaiʻi will truly be missed.”

US Senator Brian Schatz:

“Loretta Fuddy was one of the finest, most capable, and most caring public servants I have ever known. This is a sad day for Hawaiʻi. My condolences and aloha go to Loretta’s ʻohana and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health family. Loretta was one of the very best.”


Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard:

“Loretta dedicated her life to improving the well-being and health of Hawaii’s people, and we are grateful for her decades of selfless service to others. She was a fierce advocate for our keiki and kūpuna, working for more than 37 years to create a safe and healthy environment for our residents. While serving in the Honolulu City Council, I was grateful to be able to work closely with Loretta to alleviate the threat of dengue fever and radioactive contamination from the Japanese tsunami; more recently, we had been collaborating to help Hawai‘i veterans with water catchment systems qualify for VA loans. I am deeply saddened by her untimely passing, and my sincere condolences go out to her loved ones during this difficult time.”

US Senator Mazie Hirono:

“I join many people in Hawaiʻi today in mourning the sudden, tragic passing of Loretta Fuddy. Loretta was a dedicated public servant who spent most of her life working to improve public health on behalf of Hawaiʻi’s families. It was a privilege to work with Loretta since my time in the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. She touched so many lives and will be missed. Our thoughts are with Loretta’s loved ones, as well as the recovering victims of the plane crash.”


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