Fire officials have confirmed that five adults have died in a plane crash that occurred just outside the fence line of Port Allen Airport, also known as Burns Field, in Hanapepe.
The FAA reports that the single-engine Cessna 182H with the tail number N2007X crashed under unknown circumstances while taking off at approximately 9:30 a.m. The plane caught fire after crashing.
County officials say the plane was owned by Skydive Kauai, which operates out of the airport. It is believed that the company was conducting a skydive tour at the time of the crash and had a pilot, two skydive instructors and two tandem jumpers on board.
Four individuals were pronounced dead at the scene and one adult male was transported to Wilcox Hospital, where he was then pronounced dead.
The names of those involved in the crash have not yet been confirmed. Autopsies will be conducted this week.
Family and friends identified one of the victims as skydiving instructor Enzo Amitrano.
They did not want to speak on camera but described Amitrano as an avid skydiver who was loved by all.
Skydive Kauai said in a statement: “Our condolences go out to the family members of the deceased. As this is under investigation, we will have no further comment.”
Cisco Campos, who witnessed the crash, said the plane was just a couple of minutes into its flight after taking off when “all of a sudden, the engine just knocked off. They was trying to turn back in, but the thing went straight down. When it was going straight down, the flames came out of the engine.”
The crash resulted in a small brush fire in the surrounding area, which firefighters had extinguished by approximately 10:30 a.m. with the help of Air 1 and two water tenders provided by the Department of Public Works.
Representatives from the Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division was also on scene and the Kauai Civil Defense Agency assisted with the coordination of emergency response.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified of the incident and will work with officials to help determine the cause of the crash.
Volunteers from Life’s Bridges, a grief counseling service, is assisting the families of the victims.
“Our love and aloha goes out to their families,” said Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “Our emergency response teams are out at the site doing everything they can to address the situation, so we’re standing by for more information.”
The public is advised to avoid the area.
The Cessna 182H is a fixed-wing, single-engine plane that, according to records, was built in 1965.
The last time this plane was involved in a crash was in 1970 at Fairfax Municipal Airport in Kansas City.
According to the NTSB, the pilot was not familiar with the aircraft, and the plane suffered a hard landing.