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Friday, May 12, 2000

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Investigators look over the crash on Molokai where six people died.

Five of six
Molokai crash
victims identified

The owner of the jet,
and of Molokai ranch land,
perished along with a son

Sabreliner called a safe plane
Voice recorder to D.C. for study

By Helen Altonn


Families in Kansas, Iowa and Colorado today were grieving the loss of loved ones apparently killed in a private jet crash on Molokai Wednesday night.

Five of the six people who were on the jet were identified as Macy Price Sr., his son Macy Price Jr., William Marr, Laurel Marr and Jason Miller by a customs official. The plane went through customs and agriculture inspections on Maui before continuing on to Molokai.

William Marr was identified as the pilot, and Miller as co-pilot.

Formal identification of the six victims is awaiting dental records, the Maui Police Department said.

Price Sr. of Golden, Colo., owned the Sabreliner 65 jet and traveled frequently with his son Macy Jr. He owned ranches in Argentina and on Molokai.

Molokai resident Lincoln Keanini said Price Sr. was "more into doing than watching. ... When he came he played golf, worked on his house and relaxed a bit."

The Price family requested no publicity until receiving more information about the crash, which occurred just before 8:45 p.m. en route to the Molokai Airport in Hoolehua.

Price Sr. has a surviving son, Jim, and a daughter, Britt, said Glenn Stroeher of Golden, a former business partner.

He said Price still operated Price Aviation but sold other businesses and traveled a lot with Macy Jr. to Alaska, South America and Hawaii.

"I've been on the property on Molokai," he said. "It's beachfront property, really beautiful ... and it's a huge spread in Argentina."

Stroeher said his son, John, a former co-pilot for Price's company plane, once said the Prices "probably led life with more adventure than anyone we knew." He said fishing in Alaska was the senior Price's passion. "They got a lot out of life."

Marr's family was gathering in the family home in Clear Lake, Iowa, said his aunt, Luella Dunley. "He was a career man, a pilot in the Navy," she said. He and his wife, Laurel, have four children.

She said Laurel called her just before they left on the flight. "She was so thrilled. ... Their plans were to go practically to the tip of Argentina." If they didn't go there, she said, their plans changed.

Miller, 28, had worked for Executive Aircraft Corp., based in Wichita, Kan., since 1992, and was the company's "Employee of the Year" in 1998.

He began as a line service technician in Newton, Kan., fueling and cleaning aircraft, and worked his way up to pilot, said Robert Taylor, company president.

"He was just an outstanding young man, the kind of person you were just very proud of, and an excellent pilot," Taylor said. "He was a young man committed to aviation. It was his whole life."

Taylor said the company usually provided a second pilot for Price's trips. "He was a highly regarded customer."

The 30 employees at The Newton Kansan also were mourning Miller's death, said Doug Anstaett, publisher. Miller's wife, Monica, is an advertising typesetter on the small newspaper.

Bill Kliewer, Sunday school teacher at Koerner Heights, said Miller was "a positive person, a superb cook, a friend of all." Miller was a member of the Koerner Heights Church of the Mennonite Brethren, and he and his wife were youth leaders. He went to Nicaragua last year on a service mission trip, helping to build a bridge and road to make it easier for workers to deliver food and supplies to the village.

Star-Bulletin reporter Gary Kubota
contributed to this report.

FAA, private expert
say jet model is
a safe plane

Sabreliners are used by
civilians and the military

By Gregg K. Kakesako


During the 20 years the Sabreliner 265-65 jet has been in operation the series has had no major problems, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

Dennis Blackburn, president of several Houston-based aviation service companies, agreed with that assessment and said the entire Sabreliner series is structurally sound with few if any technical problems.

"Most of the problems involved with the Sabreliner have been pilot error," he said.

The Sabreliner 265-65 that crashed yesterday on Molokai, killing six people, went into service in 1980 and is owned by Price Aircraft in Golden, Colo.

The Saberliners have been popular medium-size jets since the 1960s, used by civilians and by the military, Blackburn said.

The Sabreliner involved in yesterday's crash was of the latest generation, said Blackburn, who has accumulated 4,000 flying hours in the 265-65 series.

"From a safety standpoint," he said, "there is no problem with the plane. It's a very honest airplane. It's very easy to fly. It's a very forgiving airplane."

Since 1980 the 265-65 series has recorded 30 incidents with the FAA -- all of them considered minor with no fatalities.

Voice recorder
goes to D.C.
for analysis

The bodies of the Molokai
crash's six victims are sent to
Maui for identification

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


KALUAKOI, Molokai -- A cockpit voice recorder was sent today to Washington, D.C., for analysis that may help explain why a private jet crashed into a slope on west Molokai, says the man in charge of the investigation.

Howard Plagens, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said he will continue to gather evidence at the site today in an attempt to reconstruct the crash that killed six people.

"We're going to focus on the wreckage itself and see what it tells us," he said.

He said officials will also review radar information and air traffic control transcripts.

The jet, en route from Maui to Molokai, crashed into a Mauna Loa slope at Ka'ana in southwest Molokai at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday, about fives miles southwest of the Molokai Airport.

Plagens said the the cockpit voice recorder was recovered yesterday.

"It may contain nothing," he said. "Then it may have recorded the last half-hour of flight."

He said investigation has yet to determine the speed of the jet when it crashed.

Plagens said the airplane crashed within 100 feet of the top of the slope.

Wreckage from the crash was scattered for 250 feet. A scorched spot marked where the airplane erupted into flames.

Investigators were able to find five bodies Wednesday night and discovered a sixth body yesterday. The bodies were flown yesterday afternoon to Maui for autopsies and identification.

Maui police Sgt. David Medeiros said the identification may take two to three days.

"We don't know who they are," Medeiros said last night. "The bodies are charred."

Flight safety standard official Pete Beckner said the privately owned jet was registered with Price Aircraft Co.

Fire officials said the jet carrying two women and four men arrived on Maui from Christmas Island at 7:30 p.m. yesterday and left 40 minutes later for Molokai.

Maunaloa resident Reggie Peterson said the jet engine sounded steady as it passed over his house at the 1,100-foot level and was traveling about 500 to 1,000 feet above him.

"It sounded low," he said.

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