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Hawaii Health Department head killed in plane crash

- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hawaii's Health Department head was killed in a plane crash about a mile off an island coast, investigators confirmed Thursday.

Tom Matsuda, the interim executive director of Hawaii's health insurance exchange, said Health Department Director Loretta Fuddy was killed during the crash, which took place Wednesday afternoon off the island of Molokai, The Associated Press reported. Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Ms. Fuddy was making her annual visit to the island of Kalaupapa, and the plane crashed shortly after take-off, AP reported.

Eight others aboard — including the pilot — were rescued.

Richard Schuman, president of Makani Kai Air, said to NBC News that so far, they don't know if the problem was mechanical or due to human error, but that National Transportation Safety Board officials were on the scene.

The U.S. Coast Guard was called to the crash scene Wednesday, located about a mile from shore, and helped three who were in the sea board a rescue helicopter. Maui Fire Rescue officials helped bring the others to shore, NBC reported.

Mr. Schuman said the survivors "were admitted to a hospital and now some of them have gone home or to hotels" and that "they're all being taken care of," NBC reported.

Mr. Schuman also credited the pilot for his skilled response to the emergency situation.

"He did what he was trained to do and the rest of it's in God's hands," he said, in the report.

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