Tuesday, February 10, 2004

NTSB inquiry
shifting to Honolulu

A report on the Big Island
crash could be ready tomorrow

The National Transportation Safety Board has wrapped up its Big Island investigation into the Jan. 31 crash of a Hawaii Air Ambulance Cessna 414A and is continuing its probe in Honolulu this week.

A preliminary report may be ready as early as tomorrow, according to Howard Plagens, NTSB investigator in charge.

Pilot Ron Laubacher and paramedics Mandy Shiraki and Daniel Villiaros were killed in the early morning crash while on a medical transport mission. The wreckage was found two days later in a eucalyptus forest at the 3,600-foot level of Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

This week, investigators are poring over the plane's maintenance records, pilot records and radar data and are looking into weather, other environmental factors and the rules under which the pilot was operating.

The twin-engine Cessna 414A was "highly fragmented" when found, Plagens said. Parts of the plane were found charred, while others were not, he said.

NTSB investigators had examined the wreckage in a hangar at the Hilo Airport as well as the crash scene.

Autopsies on the bodies were performed Friday, and the remains were released to the families Saturday.


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