Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Crash victims’
kin unite in grief

A wife and a fiancee form
the core of a support group
for passengers' families

Victims' names
Family trio worked in Silicon Valley
Pilot cheated on flight log

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


KAILUA-KONA -- Peggy Risley of New Hampshire and Linda Crighton of Captain Cook first met Friday night at a luau. On Sunday, they were reunited in grief.

Henry "Hank" and Peggy Risley had struck up a conversation with Crighton and her fiance, Wade Abac Sr., across the table.

"We just started talking," said Peggy Risley. "They were very open people and just very friendly."

The Risleys learned that Abac booked adventure trips at the Aston Keauhou Beach Resort, where they were vacationing.

The next day, Abac learned that Hank Risley and his 71-year-old stepmother, Nora, were booked on an around-the-island sightseeing flight.

"He said, 'I'm going to get on that flight with you guys this afternoon,' and we said, 'Yeah, that would be great,'" Peggy Risley said.

She said she did not go because she felt she would be claustrophobic in the small plane.

Later that day, the lives of both Peggy Risley and Linda Crighton were shattered when the twin-engine tour plane carrying Henry "Hank" Risley, his stepmother and Wade Abac Sr. crashed on the jagged slopes of Mauna Loa, killing all 10 people aboard.

Some 24 hours later, Peggy Risley was able to find comfort and solace with the one person she knew in Kona, Crighton.

"When I got the phone call from Big Island Air (Saturday night), my first thought was Linda because she was the only person I knew here, but I didn't know her last name," she said. "Her thoughts were basically the same when I spoke to her the next morning, and she didn't know my last name or anything either, so we weren't able to connect that evening."

The two finally met about 8 a.m. Sunday at the victims' families crisis shelter set up by the American Red Cross at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.

Peggy Risley and Crighton shared tears and found strength together. Their relationship helped form the core of a support group for their families and those of other passengers.

"I cannot express enough thanks for the caring and compassion of total strangers," Peggy Risley told reporters yesterday. "I have not ever experienced this much compassion from people I don't even know -- Wade's family and Linda's family.

"When they got here, they just kind of took me under their wing."

Red Cross volunteers said that talking to and consoling strangers who shared a sudden and shocking trauma helped family members get through the first hours and days after the crash.

"The two of them cried together," said Cathy Lewis, a mental health volunteer with Red Cross. "At that time the official announcement (that the wreckage had been found) hadn't come, but in their hearts they both knew."

Lewis said: "They were able to cry together, to gain support from each other, and ever since then they've had a lot of interaction. We've had them together along with the other families and family members that came in."

Hank Risley, 53, and Wade Abac came from different worlds.

Risley was chief of corrections for the state of New Hampshire.

His wife of 18 years said most will remember him for his integrity.

"He was very dedicated to his work and his career, but his family came first,"she said. He had three children, now all adults, from a previous marriage.

This was the sixth time the couple had come to Hawaii but the first time that Hank, a private pilot, got to go sightseeing on a plane.

"He died in his element; he loved vacationing here and he loved to fly," she said.

Hubert "Wade" Abac, 39, worked no less than a dozen different jobs since graduating from Baldwin High School in 1977.

He was in the Army and later held jobs as a security officer, waiter, carpenter and fence installer, among others.

But his family and others who knew him thought his gregarious personality was best suited for an activities coordinator.

"The guy had a huge smile that was twice as wide as his face. He never stopped laughing," said Tim Bates, a close friend. Bates also described Abac, the father of three teen-age sons on Maui, as a loyal friend who would never let a friend down.

"He wanted to go on the flight so he could let people know what's going on, because he didn't want to sell something that he didn't know anything about," said Crighton, who had been with Abac since April. They had been engaged for just three weeks.

Crighton said she had intended to go with him, but there was no seat available for her.

"I told him to go and enjoy."

Names of crash victims

A list of the 10 people killed in Saturday's crash of Big Island Air Flight 58 in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island:

Bullet Dennis O'Leary, 52, of Hawaii, the pilot.
Bullet Wade Abac Sr., 39, of Captain Cook, Hawaii.
Bullet David Bailey Sr., 55, of San Jose, Calif.
Bullet David Bailey Jr., 27, of San Jose. He was David Sr.'s son.
Bullet Dana Luv Bailey, 26, of San Jose. She was David Bailey Jr.'s wife.
Bullet Henry Risley, 53, of New Hampshire.
Bullet Nora Risley, 71, of Vermont. She was Risley's stepmother.
Bullet Jochen Rausch, a German citizen who was working in Thailand.
Bullet Two women from Australia, whose families have requested that their names not be released.


Family trio
all worked for
Silicon Valley firm

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Dana Luv Stout Bailey had a passion for life and the color purple.

"She liked Winnie the Pooh and her favorite color was purple," said James Eisner, a childhood friend who said the 26-year-old South San Jose resident helped raise him. "She had a purple Daihatsu and her license plate said 'purple.'

"We grew up together," said Eisner, 18.

Eisner said he had just started to work at the Silicon Valley computer company Cybor Corp., where Bailey had been employed for several years.

Eisner said that is where Bailey met her husband, David Bailey Jr., whose father founded the company in 1988.

"They were the perfect couple," Eisner said. "I never saw them fight."

Dana Bailey, her husband and her husband's father were killed in Saturday's plane crash.

Dana Bailey attended Oak Grove High School in San Jose.

Eisner called her "a wonderful person. ... She loved Winnie the Pooh. She had stuffed animals all over her house. There were Winnie the Pooh clocks and watches."

Eisner said he was at the couple's home as they packed for their Hawaiian vacation.

"When I left I said have fun in Hawaii," Eisner added. "I hardly hugged Dana, but that night she gave me a big hug before I left."

William Bynarowicz, Cybor president, described its founder and now vice president David Bailey, Sr., 55, as a man who loved computers and "his work."

Bynarowicz said he knew David Bailey Sr. for 15 years and described him as "a very intelligent man, but a simple man who enjoyed tinkering. That is what he lived for ... tinkering."

He said David Bailey Jr. joined his father's company five years ago and was a "gifted computer programmer."

The younger Bailey and his wife had been married for nearly three years. She worked for Cybor as a quality control inspector.

Bynarowicz said his company employs 55 people and makes things used to manufacture computer chips.

Bynarowicz said that David Bailey Sr. had just taken his grandchildren to Disneyland and taken the trip to Hawaii to be with his son and to visit an aunt who lived on the Big Island.

"They had visited her several times in the past and just wanted time to spend with his children."

Pilot cheated on his log;
no fire before crash

The pilot, who had just been tested
to fly air taxis, logged in his flight time
before the trip even began

By Rod Thompson


HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK -- Investigators looking into the cause of a Big Island Air plane crash that killed 10 people will look further into the background of pilot Dennis O'Leary after it was learned O'Leary logged his flight hours before the plane took off.

O'Leary listed the flight as being completed successfully in 3.1 hours. Instead the twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed one hour after takeoff. Officials earlier said the flight was expected to take just a little over 1 hours.

John Hammerschmidt, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board team investigating the crash, said normally flight time is read from a meter at the end of a flight. O'Leary's action was "not typical," he said.

Hammerschmidt said O'Leary told Big Island Air officials he had about 11,500 hours of flight time, but the company did not verify the claim by looking at O'Leary's personal flight logs before putting him on contract.

The investigation will look further into the accuracy of O'Leary's statement about his flying time, Hammerschmidt said.

O'Leary logged in the length of his last flight before it began and Hammerschmidt commented, "That has the appearance of being less than ordinary."

Reached for comment later, pilot Tom Lodge said the practice is "nothing new," where pilots follow a set route and know how long a flight will take.

If they fly less time than they have logged, or more, they can make corrections later, he said. But he added the practice is "probably not a good idea."

O'Leary was certified as an air transportation pilot and had passed a test as an air taxi pilot on Aug. 30, Hammerschmidt said.

Investigators will interview the the official who flew with O'Leary to test him, he said.

O'Leary was rated to fly by instruments and the Piper Navajo Chieftain was capable of being flown by instruments, but this particular flight required him to operate by visual flight rules, Hammerschmidt said.

O'Leary was a contract pilot who was paid $65 per flight and commuted to his job in Kona from Honolulu.

After NTSB investigators were able to get to the crash site for the first time yesterday, Hammerschmidt revealed that the plane was flying "flat and level" when it hit the gradually sloping ground.

The elevation has been measured as 10,200 feet, he said. That was a refinement of several earlier estimates. The plane's two engines were fully functional at the time, he said.

The path of the plane, especially after it came down the Hamakua coast and south of Hilo to the national park area, is unknown.

Hammerschmidt said officials are hopeful that radar records from the system that monitors overseas planes approaching Honolulu will show where it was.

NTSB public relations officer Paul Schlamm explained that a transponder on the plane would respond to radar contact by sending back moment-to-moment information on location and altitude.

Investigators determined that the plane was headed almost due north when it struck the mountain, Hammerschmidt said.

He gave no interpretation of the direction, but a map showed the path to be at a right angle to the intended path to Keahole Airport in Kona.

Officials found a passenger's wristwatch on the mountain that stopped at 5:33 p.m., Hammerschmidt said.

National park ranger Jeff Judd said another wristwatch found on the remains of a victim taken to Hilo stopped at 5:22 p.m., just one minute after O'Leary's last radio call. O'Leary contacted a flight control tower at 5:21 p.m., officials said earlier. He indicated no distress.

The instruments on board the plane were mostly destroyed, Hammerschmidt said. A portable global positioning system device reported to be in the plane was not found, he said.

Judd said the fire, which followed the crash, melted the aluminum frame of the plane. "It melted into the ground. You have big nodules of metal," he said.

Hammerschmidt said there was no fire in the plane before it crashed.

Schlamm said the NTSB team may conclude its work by the end of the week, depending on weather permitting them to continue to reach the two-mile-high crash site.

After their work is done, an insurance company will be responsible for cleaning up the site, park Superintendent Jim Martin said.

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