Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who verified Obama’s birth certificate and American birthplace in 2011, is the only fatality of a plane crash a half mile off the coast of Molokai, Hawaii, NBC News reports.
The Cessna plane was carrying eight other people when it crashed, including the health department’s deputy director. Other injuries have been reported, although none life-threatening. One survivor swam to shore; others were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter and a Maui fire crew.
Honolulu-based KITV reports that the pilot cited catastrophic engine failure as the cause of the crash. The plane has not been recovered from the site.
“What he reported is after takeoff … there was catastrophic engine failure,” Makani Kai Air President Richard Schuman said to KITV. “He did the best he can to bring the aircraft down safely and he got everybody out of the aircraft.”
“Our hearts are broken,” Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. “Loretta was deeply loved and respected. She was selfless, utterly dedicated and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii.”
Fuddy was 65 years old and had served as health director of Hawaii since 2011.