Reports: Health chief Fuddy dies in plane crash off Molokai


HONOLULU — One person is dead after a small plane with nine people aboard crashed into the water off the Hawaiian island of Molokai, a Maui County official said Wednesday.

Multiple news outlets including hawaiinewsnow.com reported that sources told them Loretta Fuddy, 65, the director of the state Department of Health, died in the crash.

A pilot and eight passengers were on board the Makani Kai Air plane, which was scheduled to take off at 3:15 p.m. and fly to Honolulu. It went down about a half mile northwest of Kalaupapa peninsula, Maui Fire Department spokesman Lee Mainaga said in an emailed statement.

Makai Kai Air President Richard Schuman told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the plane was a Cessna Grand Caravan.

Fuddy and the department’s deputy director, Keith Yamamoto, were booked on the flight, department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said a Coast Guard helicopter rescued 3 passengers out of the water and Maui fire crews picked up five people. One person swam ashore.

McKenzie said the helicopter brought three people to Honolulu for medical treatment, while a Coast Guard plane took five people to Maui.

Fuddy and Yamamoto were at Kalaupapa for an annual visit, Okubo said. Hawaii once exiled people with leprosy, or Hansen’s disease to Kalaupapa from 1866 through 1969.

The remote peninsula on the north side of Molokai island is still a leprosy settlement run by the state Health Department, though only a few former leprosy patients continue to live there.

Kalaupapa is also home to a national park.