Officials take ferry to meeting in wake of plane crash
WAILUKU, Maui — Maui County officials chose to ride a ferry to attend the first Lanai Planning Commission meeting since a February crash of a chartered plane killed two county workers and injured three other employees.
Four planning staffers and a deputy corporation counsel took the ferry to Lanai island Wednesday and remained there overnight before heading back on the ferry, the Maui News reported.
Among the staffers who went was Clayton Yoshida, a planning program administrator who said workers thought the ferry would be a good way to resume the meetings.
The crash also killed two women working for the Maui County Planning Department — Tremaine Balberdi, 52, and Kathleen Kern, 50.
“For now, I guess we’re looking at some alternatives to the (airplane) charter,” he said.
Richard Rooney, the 66-year-old pilot of the plane chartered from Maui Air Tours, also died in the Feb. 26 crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff following a planning commission meeting.
Yoshida said it was business as usual at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Everyone is trying to get back on their feet, slowly, getting back into the things they were trying to do before the crash,” he said.
There were no formal remembrances at the Wednesday meeting, but staff members fielded many questions on the conditions of the survivors, according to Yoshida.
Planning staff also told the audience of a memorial fund, “Maui County Remembers,” to provide financial assistance to the families of those killed or injured. The fund was set up by Pulama Lanai, billionaire technology entrepreneur Larry Ellison’s management company for Lanai.
Lanai is part of Maui County, and it is common for county officials to travel frequently between the islands via plane or ferry.