Sunday, June 17, 2001

Crash victim
mourned by

The student pilot was on
leave from his Navy job and
his wife is in the Marine Corps

By Diana Leone

The 23-year-old man who died Thursday in a plane crash on Lanai was a Navy aircraft electronics technician with a Marine Corps wife and a 1-month-old daughter.

Petty Officer 2nd class Matthew Monczynski had been on leave from his job with Navy Patrol Squadron 9, which is based at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base and currently is deployed at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, said U.S. Pacific Fleet Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico.Monczynski's wife, Renee, is a lance corporal with the military police at Kaneohe Bay.

"The Marine Corps is doing everything we can to be with the family in their time of need," said Kaneohe Marine Base Media Officer Kent D. Robbins.

National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Tealeye Cornejo said yesterday that she won't be certain who was piloting the plane until she speaks to the crash survivor, 22-year-old Matthew McGurk, a certified flight instructor.

Cornejo said she plans to speak to McGurk, who remains in Queen's Hospital in fair condition, before she returns to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

A key question is how much altitude the plane had, Cornejo said. The crash occurred at an elevation of about 1,700 feet above sea level. Regulations require that a plane fly a minimum of 500 feet above the terrain in unpopulated areas, "but I don't know where he (the pilot) thought he was."

Coast Guard rescuers reported that the night would have been very dark, with no moon, at the time of the crash, Cornejo said.

McGurk's mother said from the hospital yesterday that he is groggy and hadn't been able to tell family members what happened.

"It doesn't appear there was anything wrong with the aircraft," Cornejo said after completing investigation of the wreckage on Lanai yesterday, accompanied by representatives of the airplane's frame and engine manufacturers.

The Piper Cherokee PA 28-140, owned by Jahn Mueller of Mueller Aviation in Honolulu, crashed on a plateau 4 1/2 miles northwest of Lanai Airport.

Coast Guard rescuers found McGurk, injured but alive, and Monczynski, who was dead, early Friday morning.

Monczynski entered the Navy in June 1996 and reported for duty in Hawaii in November 1998. His family in Chicago has been contacted, Plexico said.

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