Shortly after taking off from Hawaii’s Lanai Airport on Wednesday evening, a twin-engine plane crashed and burst into flames, killing the pilot and two passengers, both employees of the Department of Planning. Three other passengers were injured: two are also from the Department of Planning and the other is the Corporation Counsel’s deputy attorney. The Corporation Counsel provides legal services for Maui County.
The group had attended a Lanai Planning Commission meeting earlier on Wednesday. They had contracted Maui Air for a return flight.
According to Maui County spokesman Rod Antone, the plane was about a mile from the airport when it crashed at around 9:30 in the evening on Wednesday. Ian Gregor, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that the Piper PA31 plane burned upon impact. There are still no details about how the crash occurred.
The crash site was located a mile southwest of the airport. According to Lanai Times editor Alberta de Jetley, the site was off a dirt road near the power plant of the Maui Electric Co., and is mostly flat grassland.
According to a statement released by Maui County officials on Thursday, the deputy attorney was the one who called 911 for help. He had managed to pull two of the planning employees away from the fire because they were unable to move on their own. The three suffered burn injuries and were airlifted to a hospital in Honolulu.
Inter-island travel is common in Maui County, where departments are spread over various areas, such as Lanai Island and Molokai. Lanai representative Sen. J. Kalani English said that Hawaii has very safe airports and flight routes, but the risk of accidents is high for frequent flyers, including government officials who move from district to district to conduct business. Last December, Health Director Loretta Fuddy died when the plane she took from the Molokai airport crashed into the ocean.
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa
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