The loss of three lives in the crash of a medical transport plane brought tears to the eyes of their family members yesterday. Ruth Laubacher, above, the mother of pilot Ron Laubacher, broke down during a news conference with Hawaii Air Ambulance Chairman Andrew Kluger.

from the NTSB
comb crash site

Pieces of wreckage found on
the Big Isle will be examined
at a Hilo Airport hangar


Friday, Feb. 6, 2003

>> Services for Daniel Villiaros, who was killed Saturday in the crash of a Hawaii Air Ambulance on the Big Island, will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hawaiian Memorial Park. Call after 5 p.m. Additional services will be held at 10 a.m. next Friday. Call after 8:30 a.m. Burial will be at 11 a.m. at Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery. A story on Page A3 yesterday incorrectly said the services would be next Friday with additional services and burial on Feb. 14.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

The wreckage of a Hawaii Air Ambulance plane that crashed on the densely forested slopes of Mauna Kea is expected to be transported tomorrow to a Hilo Airport hangar where federal investigators will examine the craft's instruments and engine.

Two National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the site of the crash on the Big Island for a second day yesterday, surveying the wreckage and surrounding foliage.

"The main thing right now is documenting the accident site ... (and) seeing if there's any anomalies in anything," said NTSB air safety investigator Nicole Charnon, adding that some of the plane's burned wreckage would be more easily examined in a hangar.

Three people -- paramedics Mandy Shiraki and Daniel Villiaros and pilot Ron Laubacher -- died in the crash.

Searchers found the Cessna 414A Monday morning in a heavily forested area about 22 miles northwest of Hilo. The plane was reported missing about 3 a.m. Saturday after failing to make a 1:50 a.m. arrival at Hilo Airport to pick up a patient for transport to Honolulu.

Charnon said investigators will likely remain on the Big Island into the weekend.

Another victim, firefighter Daniel Villiaros, was remembered by his father, Jay, at left, niece Leilani Johnson Villiaros and mother Dominica.

The NTSB's investigation could take six months to a year to complete.

The aircraft was 26 years old, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. NTSB records show that a plane with an identical registration number experienced engine failure and suffered minor damage in 1981 during a flight from Miami to Jackson, Miss.

Andrew Kluger, Hawaii Air Ambulance chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday the plane's age was not unusual for transports of that sort and should not be a concern as long as the plane's maintenance -- which he said is vigorous at his company -- is kept up.

Kluger also said he had no knowledge of any records of engine failure involving the airplane.

At a news conference yesterday, Kluger declined to discuss the ongoing investigation. Instead, he and family members of Villiaros and Laubacher gathered to share their grief at the loss of those aboard the airplane.

"He's still with me," Laubacher's mother, Ruth, said through tears. "I haven't accepted it, and I'm not ready to accept it."

Villiaros' mother, Dominica, said a wake and memorial service for her son has been set for 5 p.m. Feb. 13 at Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery. The former Honolulu firefighter will be buried at 10 a.m. Feb. 14.

Services for Laubacher and Shiraki have not yet been arranged.

Hawaii Air Ambulance has set up four accounts at Hawaii National Bank's airport branch for the families of those lost in the crash. Donations can be sent in the name of an individual victim or to Friends of Hawaii Air Ambulance, a joint account that will be divided among the families.


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