By Star-Bulletin Staff

Saturday, November 2, 1996

The wreckage of a single-engine plane is visible along a gash
it cut through the trees when it crashed last night
on a ridge at the back of Molokai's Halawa Valley.

Photo by Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin

Molokai crash kills five

Bodies painstakingly recovered from ridge

Five people were killed in a single-engine plane crash discovered early today on a tree-lined ridge in northeast Molokai, officials said.

"There doesn't appear to be any survivors on the aircraft," said Maui Police Capt. Victor Tengan.

Police have not confirmed the identities of the victims. But the private plane, a Piper Seneca, was owned by Maui Democratic Party Chairman Robert McCarthy. It was due back at Kahului Airport last night.

McCarthy's wife, who reported him missing about midnight when his plane failed to return, said he was shuttling people between Maui and Molokai yesterday for a Democratic Rally at Onealii Park in Kaunakakai on the Friendly Isle.

State Rep. Michael White (D, Lahaina-Molokai-Lanai) said he had been scheduled to fly with McCarthy to the rally yesterday but canceled the trip because he was feeling ill. "I feel grateful that I was feeling ill," White said this morning.

A Maui Fire Department rescue team found the bodies and wreckage before 6:30 a.m. The wreckage was scattered on a remote ridge in the back of Halawa Valley, accessible only by aircraft.

A large section of the plane's tail, white with black markings, was visible from the air - its cockpit buried into the ground. Both wings had been sheared off and were lying a few feet from the plane. The plane had plowed through trees, creating a swath about 50 feet long by 30 feet wide - scattering debris in its wake.

"I suspect visibility was poor, especially at night," said Gregg Mattson, a pilot with Cherry Helicopters who flew over the site early today. "It looked like it grazed a top of (the ridge) but hit it."

Kalihi gang violence
'going to explode'

Tension has been building among rival young-adult gang members from Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wright Housing since the beating deaths of Tafilele Mika, 22, on Oct. 5 and Sam Talo, 17, two weeks later.

"It's going to explode, we just don't know where or when," Kalihi police Maj. Stephen Watarai said. "Our concern is the safety of the public because innocent bystanders, including kids and police officers, may get caught in-between.

"Community leaders are trying to help, and we've put extra uniform and plainclothes officers out to try and keep a lid on this," he added. "But the feeling is it's going to explode, so we may just be delaying or displacing it."

Residents can feel the tension mounting.

"I have bad vibes about this," KPT resident Lulu Mauga said. "I feel like there is going to be something happening."

Another woman, 39, from Mayor Wright, said the situation is "spooky."

"I'm afraid," said the woman, who did not want to be identified. "Everybody has this feeling like something bad is about to happen.

Police, Department of Education and Aloha Stadium officials acted quickly this week to prevent trouble from occurring on the campuses of Farrington and McKinley high schools or at the scene of their football playoff game last night.

Mayor Wright is in McKinley's school district while Farrington enrolls KPT residents.

About 60 police officers, most of them in plainclothes, were at Aloha Stadium for last night's Farrington-McKinley game. Extra security was also called in for the High School Carnival, which opened a two-day run last night in the stadium's parking lot.

Undecided voters key
to prosecutor's race

A mailer from Honolulu prosecuting attorney candidate David Arakawa earned him a vote from Kaneohe resident Diane Bankert in September's special election.

Bankert, however, now considers herself an undecided heading into Tuesday's general election between Arakawa and Peter Carlisle.

"I'm leaning toward Arakawa but that's only because I don't know anything about Carlisle," said Bankert, who plans to get some information before casting her vote.

Bankert was among those interviewed for the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin Poll, which showed Arakawa leading Carlisle by 44 percent to 41 percent. A hefty 16 percent said they were still undecided.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Oct. 24-28 by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md., and the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The results do not total 100 percent because of rounding.

The poll, which only represents a snapshot of public opinion at the time it was taken, indicates the prosecutor's race has tightened since September when Arakawa garnered 46 percent of the vote to outpoll Carlisle by 27,648 votes.

"Quite frankly, I think it's very, very close," said Randal Yoshida, who was eliminated from the prosecutor's race in September. "Sixteen percent is a high number of undecided voters so it's really a dead heat."

See expanded coverage in Saturday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

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