HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At around 10:30 Monday morning, a white hearse carrying the body of State Health Director Loretta Fuddy began making its way from the tarmac behind the Castle and Cooke aviation building off Lagoon Drive to Hawaii Memorial Park in Kaneohe.
The procession was led by State Sherriff's and included about a dozen first responder vehicles and members of the Fuddy family.
Fuddy's brother-in-law, Scottie Schaefer, who works with American Medical Response, flew over on the AMR plane that carried her back this morning so he could escort her home to Oahu. Schaefer was on Maui where an autopsy had been conducted. The results of the cause of her death are still pending.
Schaefer said he was actually on Molokai last week helping to treat the victims of the plane crash on land, when he learned the deceased was family.
"I think we're all here because we love her and honor her," said Schaefer.
Fuddy's body arrived about 30 minutes prior to the procession. A private ceremony was held, as she was surrounded by friends, family, coworkers and members of her church when her casket was moved from the aircraft to the hearse.
"I think for the family and the members of the Department of Health this was an important process to go through and an opportunity for us just to bear witness to her homecoming," said DOH colleague, Gary Gill, Deputy Director of Environment Health Administration.
Gill says Governor Neil Abercrombie helped the family drape a Hawaiian flag over her casket.
"We're all struggling to cope but we're remembering the goodness and love that she had and that's how we're dealing with it," said Schaefer.
Also in attendance, Deputy Health Director Keith Yamamoto who was with Fuddy in the waters off Kalaupapa, Molokai when she died following the plane crash last Wednesday. Yamamoto survived the crash along with seven others including the pilot of the Cessna Caravan owned by Makani Kai Air, who told the CEO that he heard a loud boom and experienced catastrophic engine failure and made a water landing about a mile from the airport. .
Of Yamamoto, Gill said, "Physically he's in good shape. Emotionally he's gonna need some time off, but we're here to support him and he's a very strong and resilient individual and we have every confidence that he'll be back in the saddle at the apppropriate time. Gill said Yamamoto is set to taking now his schedule vacation.
In the meantime, Gill says the DOH staff will continue to work toward fulfilling Fuddy's goals.
"All of our priorities are still in place. All of our projects are still in place. And the Department of Health will move forward in honor of her leadership," Gill stated.
Memorial services are set for Saturday, December 21, 2013 in Kalihi at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa with public visitation schedule at 9 a.m. Mass at 11 a.m. and a private burial service to follow.