Plane crash victims recovered - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Plane crash victims recovered

Julie Moody, Dr. Polumbo's sister-in-law. Julie Moody, Dr. Polumbo's sister-in-law.
Capt. Terry Seelig Capt. Terry Seelig

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A well known veterinarian and his son have been killed and now investigators have to figure out what caused the crash.

The single engine Piper Cherokee plane went down Sunday afternoon high atop the Koolau Mountains in East Oahu near the Lanipo Trail. Dr. Nicolas Polumbo was at the controls. He was flying back from his veterinary clinic on Lanai with his son Timmy. It's a route he knew well as they've made that flight every weekend for years.

Aerial video from Sky News Now shows the plane crashed just yards below the tip of the Koolau Mountains. It then caught fire and burned about a 25 yard area around the plane. Because of the difficulty getting to the crash site crews had to rappel down from the helicopter. They hacked away at the brush to clear the area then rappelled down the steep slope to the wreckage where they found both of the people onboard.

"Although it has not been officially confirmed by the coroner, the family would like to make the statement that Dr. Nicolas Polumbo and his son Timmy Polumbo, 20 years old, were killed in yesterday's plane crash," said Julie Moody, Dr. Polumbo's sister-in-law.

Visibility may have been a factor as the sky was overcast in the area at the time of the crash.

Dr. Polumbo was 81 years old. His family says age was not a factor. He had more than 60 years experience as a pilot and learned to fly in the military when he was just 19 years old.

"He was an extremely competent, extremely confident pilot, never expressed any concern whatsoever," said Moody. "The family is clearly in a state of shock and grief."

Dr. Polumbo's wife Sue is also a veterinarian. They had eight kids. Many family members were there at the staging center to console each other as the remains were flown in. Afterwards firefighters allowed them a moment to help with their loss.

"We needed closure and this was the way for my sister, her children my parents, Nick's children and myself to experience closure," said Moody, who made it a point to thank the Honolulu Fire Department for their efforts.

"Even though it's not our family members we feel like they are. We hurt the same as they do and we're here to help them in any way we can and this is part of it," said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department Spokesperson.

Initial reports say Dr. Polumbo did not make a mayday call before the crash, which could indicate he did not have time to react to the situation.

Monday a Federal Aviation Administration investigator flew over the wreckage and took pictures. National Transportation Safety Board investigators are also in route from the mainland. It's unknown if they'll actually hike to the crash site or just have the parts brought down for further investigation.

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