2 men killed in Cessna plane crash on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast identified
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating a fatal plane crash on Kauai on Sunday.
The victims on board the plane were identified by the Kauai Police Department Monday as 76-year-old James Degnan of Princeville, and 78-year-old David Parker of Kapa’a. Officials said they were the pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft.
Multiple county and state crews responded to the area of Kauai’s Kalalau Lookout in Kokee Sunday after reports of the crash around 3:15 p.m.
KPD said witnesses reported seeing the plane flying low in the area before they heard it slam into the mountain.
Flight records show the single-engine Cessna took off from Lihue at 2:30 Sunday afternoon on a clockwise training flight around Kauai.
After the plane went down, the search area was eventually narrowed to the Kalalau and the Pu’u o Kila lookouts before emergency crews located the remnants of the plane a few thousand feet below the Kalalau Lookout. The terrain is extremely steep and dangerous, which challenged recovery efforts.
The plane that crashed was a single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk, according to preliminary information from the FAA. Authorities said the Civil Air Patrol plane was conducting monthly tsunami warning practice runs when the crash happened.
Rescue and recovery operations were suspended Sunday due to dangerous weather conditions and poor visibility.
Efforts continued Monday and around 10 a.m., police and fire officials recovered the bodies of the two pilots.
“We extend our sincere condolences to the loved ones of James and David, and our partners over at the Civil Air Patrol, whom we work with closely,” said KPD’s Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce. “These individuals were seasoned pilots who were part of our Kaua’i community, and we know they will be missed deeply.”
Kauai County says there is currently a “no-fly zone” in place for the Kalalau and Kokee areas. The first Kalalau Lookout nearby is also closed.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this terrible incident, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these pilots who were well known in our tight-knit community,” said Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami. “The Civil Air Patrol has always been there to help our community during disasters and emergencies. We thank our first responders for working urgently and doing everything they could to bring a sense of closure for those touched by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you all.”
The scene of the crash has since been turned over to the NTSB and FAA for further investigation as they work to figure out exactly what brought down the aircraft.
This is the second deadly aviation crash on Kauai in recent weeks. On Feb. 22, a military-contracted helicopter crashed at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, killing four people. A preliminary report said they were on a mission to retrieve a training torpedo in open waters.
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This story will be updated.
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