Oil sheen, debris spotted as search for downed medical transport plane continues


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A sprawling search by air and sea is continuing Friday morning for a medical transport plane that crashed off Maui with three people onboard.

Crews have spotted oil sheen and recovered aircraft debris.

But Coast Guard officials said it hasn’t been confirmed the debris is from the downed craft.

Here’s the latest:

  • The Coast Guard in Honolulu reported losing radar contact with the C90 Beechcraft King Air operated by Hawaii Life Flight about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, when the plane was at an altitude of about 5,000 feet.
  • At that time, the plane was located about 15 nautical miles off Hana.
  • Authorities said the flight departed from Kahului headed to the Waimea-Kohala airport with three crew members and no patients onboard.
  • Gov. Josh Green has issued an emergency proclamation in the wake of the crash to supplement medical air transport capacity, allowing out-of-state and National Guard crews to assist.

In wake of crash, Green issues emergency proclamation to bolster medical airlift capacity

Global Medical Response owns the aircraft and confirmed the crew was headed to Hawaii Island to pick up a patient. “We are doing everything we can to bring our team members home,” the company said.

The Coast Guard said multiple aircraft and vessels have joined the widening search, including an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a C-130 from Air Station Barbers Point. Overnight, flight radar showed a Coast Guard airplane flying across the Alenuihaha Channel between Maui and Hawaii Island to search for the missing crew.

Amid the ongoing search, Coast Guard officials said their aircraft reported seeing a sheen in the search area and a patrol boat recovered some aircraft debris. But officials said it’s not known if they belong to the missing aircraft.

“It does correlate with the last known position of the plane, but we can’t for certain say that it’s from the same aircraft,” said Lt. Commander Andrew Williams, Coast Guard rescue mission coordinator.

“Right now we’re focusing our efforts on the search. And we have software that takes the weather currents and winds and provides us a drift model of the most likely location that will find survivors or wreckage.”

Meanwhile, the NTSB says it is responding to investigate the crash.

It’s not known what may have caused the plane to come down. The weather Thursday night in the crash area was rainy and windy, and the channel where the plane came down is known for choppy ocean conditions.

“We’re praying that we find the people involved in this accident,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino.

Meanwhile, Global Medical Response said it is currently reaching out to the families of the missing crew. Hawaii Life Flight has also paused its transport flights as the search continues.

“Our caregivers are delivering 24/7, 365 care to patients who need service the most,” said Speedy Bailey, of American Medical Response Hawaii. “The pause is a time to take care of our caregivers, so we’re doing that right now and we’re deeply concerned for all the family involved and the family of our caregivers.”

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth released a statement, extending his support to the families of crew members aboard the plane.

“The service they provide to our community is truly invaluable, and we mahalo all who risk their lives daily to save the lives of others,” he said. “Our administration remains hopeful in the Coast Guard’s search and eagerly awaits any sign of good news.”

According to their website, the company has been operating in Hawaii since 2010.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.





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