Lanai crash victims mourned, survivor lauded a hero

Workers consoled each other Thursday.

Full Story: 3 dead, 3 injured after plane crashes on Lanai

It was an emotionally draining day for Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and co-workers of the two women who died. They say they are devastated by this tragedy.

“We lost two of our own last night,” Arakawa said. “One of them was a long-time employee who worked for us for decades. The other was a bright young planner who was dedicated to her job in serving the public.

Arakawa could not hold back tears as he said, “We all get to work with other, so yeah it’s like family.”

The loss has stunned county workers, especially those who work in the planning department, where four of the passengers worked. “It’s hard to describe,” said deputy director Michele McLean. “The director and I came in early, so we would be there when our first employees come in.”

Lanai commissioner Joelle Aoki worked closely with those who were on the plane. “I was devastated,” she told KHON2. “They’re good people, good members of our community and they wanted the best for our people here in the county of Maui.”

Grief counselors will be in hand to help coworkers deal with the tragedy.

Among the tragedy is a story of heroism. One of the survivors, James Giroux, Deputy Corporation Counsel with the County Maui, pulled two people out of the burning wreckage. His actions might have saved their lives. All three are currently being treated at Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

“That was all he could do before it was engulfed in flames, from what I understand,” said Giroux’s ex-wife, Kirsten Hamman, who spoke to him this morning. Hamman said Giroux suffered burns to his hands and face but is otherwise okay.

Hamman tells KHON2 she is going through a mixture of emotions dealing with the news.

“It’s a shock,” she said. “I’m just so grateful that it wasn’t what my worst fear was and that he’s okay. I can’t wait for him to get back so (our) kids can spend some time with him.”

Giroux issued a statement through Maui County confirming he does not have life-threatening injuries and that he is recovering.

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