HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Loretta Fuddy, director of the state Department of Health was killed in a small plane crash Wednesday afternoon off Kalaupapa, officials say. Eight others survived.
The Cessna Grand Caravan operated by Makani Kai Air reportedly went down at about 3:45 p.m. while heading from Molokai to Oahu.
Deputy Health director Keith Yamamoto was also on the flight.
Makani Kai CEO Rich Schuman had received earlier reports that all nine people aboard the Cessna had been accounted for.
"They initially told me that when they were on scene, they told me how many people were accounted for and how many people they got, and apparently one person swam to shore.
Schuman said another aircraft happened to be in the area and was able to radio the Molokai Airport tower. He also said that everyone who got out of the aircraft was wearing a life jacket.
Among the other passengers, three patients were flown to Oahu for treatment; two declined treatment and are staying in Kalaupapa, while three other patients were taken to Molokai General for treatment, according to Maui fire officials.
It appeared that Fuddy didn't make it out of the plane, according to the Maui Fire Department.
"They said that that person remained in the fuselage of the plane, but we don't have much details on that at this time," said Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig. "So it's always a difficult situation when you're not able to get everybody out, but unfortunately that was not the case here."
Fuddy was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health on March 2, 2011. She previously served as the acting director from January 26, 2011.
She was raised in Kaimuki and is a graduate of Sacred Hearts Academy and the University of Hawaii.
Fuddy's department oversees Kalaupapa and its remaining Hansen's Disease patients.
Records show the Cessna in the crash was built in 2002 and had a valid operating certificate. It was one of two planes operated by Makani Kai since it took over flying to Kalaupapa nearly three years ago.
The company said it had never had an accident in its more than 20-year history.