Update (911 Audio): Plane survivor tells of hard bank, chaos

A man who survived a plane crash on Lanai last month reported that the plane made an “extreme bank to the right hard enough that he could feel the G-force” after takeoff from Lanai Airport, according to a statement provided to police.

“After that everything happened very quickly and he was thrown from the plane,” according to a statement from a Transportation Safety Administration supervisor who spoke with the survivor.

The pilot and two passengers died in the crash at 9:11 p.m. Feb. 26 in an area known as Miki Basin about 1 mile south of the airport. Three other passengers were hospitalized after suffering burns from a post-impact fire.

Maui County had chartered the Maui Air Tours flight for five Maui County employees, who were returning to Kahului Airport after staffing a Lanai Planning Commission meeting that evening.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of the twin-engine Piper Chieftain.

According to police, an officer was assigned to the Miki Basin area at 9:20 p.m. after a report of a large orange glow in the sky. Four minutes later, a TSA supervisor reported that there had been a plane crash near the airport.

Police didn’t identify the survivor who spoke with a TSA supervisor. But after the crash, Maui County reported that Deputy Corporation Counsel James Giroux, who was aboard the plane, called 911 after pulling fellow passengers Doug Miller and Mark King away from the fire because they couldn’t move on their own. All three men were hospitalized after suffering burns, according to the county.

County planner Kathleen Kern, 50, of Kihei and Planning Department secretary Tremaine Balberdi, 52, of Kahului were killed in the crash, along with pilot Richard “Dick” Rooney, 66, of Spreckelsville.

In the statement to the TSA supervisor, the survivor said that, after being thrown from the plane, he got up and saw two men lying on the ground and two women still in the burning plane, according to police. The survivor said he didn’t see the pilot.

Police detectives and an evidence specialist who went to the crash scene the next morning, found the women’s bodies in the main wreckage and the pilot 10 to 15 feet away from the main wreckage, police said.

Both engines of the plane were recovered the afternoon of Feb. 28, after NTSB investigators and an air safety investigator arrived on the scene.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.