Maui mayor: Community still healing after deadly plane crash

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa says the community continues to heal after a deadly plane crash on Lanai that killed two Maui County employees and the pilot. Three others on board were injured.

Planning department workers Tremaine Balberdi and Kathleen Kern died on February 26 when a chartered plane went down about a mile from Lanai Airport. Maui Air pilot Richard Rooney was also killed.

“It was very, very heart-wrenching for everyone in our community,” Arakawa said. “Maui is a smaller community where everyone knows everybody on a real person-to-person basis, so the people that passed away, we knew them as individuals. The people that are hurt and undergoing treatment, we know them as individuals.”

Arakawa said two other employees injured in the crash, Doug Miller and Mark King, are still undergoing treatment for major burns, and a third employee, James Giroux, deputy attorney for Corporation Counsel, has returned to work.

He also said despite the tragedy, workers continue to commute from Maui to Lanai.

“Some take the ferry. some take the airplanes,” he said. “Going to Lanai, most times it’s more convenient to take the ferry so a lot of our employees do that.”

“We are trying to make whatever adjustments we can to make people feel more comfortable with the situation,” he added.

Authorities said the group had been on Lanai earlier in the evening to staff a Lanai Planning Commission Meeting, then chartered the plane to fly back to Maui.

Earlier this month, Kern’s family filed a lawsuit against both the airline and the pilot alleging negligence.

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