On Monday, the Maui Police Department released the cause of death for the State Director of the Department of Health Loretta Fuddy who died when her plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Kalaupapa about a month ago.
The MPD official statement said that Fuddy, 65, died of cardiac arrhythmia as a result of stress. An autopsy on Fuddy was conducted two days after the crash. The manner of death has been called accidental.
At 3:37 p.m. on Dec. 11, a Makani Kai Air turboprop airplane lost power a half mile outside of Kalaupapa, according to the MPD news release. The pilot and seven other passengers survived without major injuries.
Pilot Clyde Kawasaki and a passenger who swam to shore have said Fuddy appeared fine while bobbing in the water after everyone exited the plane and waited for help. Rescuers eventually pulled Kawasaki and the others from the water.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the crash said the single-engine plane floated for about 25 minutes before sinking.
Fuddy, was healthy and didn’t have any known heart problems, her brother, Lewis Fuddy, said Monday in a report from the Associated Press. “She wasn’t an anxious person,” he said. “To be head of the Health Department, you have to have some cool nerves.”
When the plane’s lone engine failed, the 60-year-old veteran pilot and passengers stayed calm as the aircraft glided toward the ocean and made a belly landing in rough waters, passenger C. Phillip Hollstein Jr. told the AP. The engine on the 2002 Cessna Grand Caravan cut out just as the plane was making a turn toward its destination of Honolulu.
According to the AP report, Hollstein said Kawasaki expertly maneuvered the plane after the engine failed, avoiding what could have been a catastrophic impact on the water. People put on life jackets and remained in the plane until it started sinking.
“There wasn’t panic or anything,” Hollstein has said. “It was very orderly.”
Hollstein, 70, said he swam about a half-mile in 6-foot waves to Kalaupapa’s rugged shoreline, thinking the others aboard the plane were fine bobbing in their life vests, awaiting rescue. He said he was surprised to learn later that Fuddy died.
Fuddy was clinging to the hand of her deputy, Keith Yamamoto, who tried to help her relax, according to the Rev. Patrick Killilea, who consoled Yamamoto after the crash.