HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several agencies responded to after Wednesday's fatal plane crash off Kalaupapa, Molokai. The single engine plane was carrying nine passengers who were floating in the water after impact. The US Coast Guard rescuers say the survivors were not panicking but they were happy help had arrived.
"When I showed up for work yesterday I had no idea I'd be going on a search and rescue case," said Mark Peer, US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer.
Mark Peer and his fellow Coast Guard rescuers had flown via helicopter from Oahu to the crash site in about thirty minutes. Thanks to flares set off by Navy crews in the area they knew exactly where to go.
"I got in the water and swam up to him and said Hey sir coast guard rescue swimmer and he smiled. It was a good feeling. I grabbed his arm. He grabbed me back and I signaled to the helicopter to send down the basket," said Peer.
The Coast Guard rescuers were also the first ones to get to Health Director Loretta Fuddy. She had drifted about 200 yards away from nearest survivor.
"I knew she was unresponsive at the time. She was not answering my verbal commands or any kind of stimuli I was giving to her," said PJ Ornot, USCG Rescue Swimmer.
That's when he moved on to another elderly woman who was alert. Soon after Peer reached Fuddy.
"She was unresponsive at which point I checked for a pulse and I couldn't find a pulse," said Peer.
They say she did not have any visible signs of injuries. She is believed to have passed before rescuers arrived.
As for the conditions, there was some wind and six foot waves but nothing extreme.
"The main thing we had to contend with was just picking up the survivors and making sure everyone stayed safe. But with the winds we had it actually helped out our operations and made it relatively easy to fly," said Lt. Weston Red Elk, USCG Pilot.
The rescuers say they only saw some debris but the bulk of the plane had sunk by the time they arrived.