EXCLUSIVE: 911 Audio of Lānaʻi Plane Crash
[flashvideo file=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdwFn7LmeSU /] By Wendy Osher
Maui Now has obtained a redacted audio recording of the 9-1-1 calls made to Maui Police following a fatal Lānaʻi plane crash on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014.
In the recording multiple callers are documented making reports to police dispatch, advising authorities of “an explosion” in the Miki Basin area of the island.
One caller describes the crash as a “big, bright orange flash” and questioned whether authorities were conducting tests in the area that could have caused an explosion.
Since the audio recording is redacted, it was edited by police to remove home addresses and phone numbers, as well as medical information for privacy as outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
We know from earlier reports that passenger James Giroux, 43, of Haʻikū, called 9-1-1 to report the incident. County authorities say that call was made at 9:23 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014.
The audio tape has multiple recordings, including one marked at 9:22 p.m., but no audio is provided for that particular phone call in the redacted version of the tape. The audio jumps to another call at 9:57 p.m. in which another caller is heard asking if there was a crash.
Giroux, who is a deputy Corporation Counsel for the County of Maui, is credited with pulling two others from the burning wreckage.
Both of those individuals were transported in critical condition to Oʻahu for treatment.
Police identified those individuals as: Douglas Miller, 57, of Kahului, a planner IV for the Maui Planning Department; and Mark King, 43, of Kīhei, a geographical information systems analyst V for Maui.
In an earlier report, Maui police identified the three individuals who died in the crash as: Richard Rooney, 66, of Pāʻia, who was also the pilot and owner of the aircraft; Tremaine Balberdi, 52 of Kahului, a secretary to the boards and commission II; and Kathleen Kern, 50, of Kīhei, a planner V for the Planning Department.
The National Transportation Safety Board also released a preliminary report last week Tuesday saying “the main wreckage was mostly consumed by post-impact fire.”
The report further states that “the airplane was substantially damaged,” in the incident, colliding with terrain shortly after departure from the Lānaʻi Airport while en-route to Kahului.
According to the NTSB, the Piper PA-31-350 aircraft was registered to Maui Aircraft Leasing, and was being operated by Maui Island Air. The report described the pilot who died in the crash, as a certified commercial pilot.
The report further states that the debris field was 640-feet long, with charred vegetation observed within the ground scar left at the first identified point of contact. According to the preliminary report, the majority of the debris from the wreckage was found within the last two-thirds of the debris field.
Authorities say the wreckage was recovered and brought to a secure location for further investigation.
During an earlier interview, Peter Knudson, National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said the investigation timeline for an accident of this nature generally runs around 12 months.