We are learning more about the heartbreak and heroics of the fatal plane crash that claimed the lives of three people on Lana'i Wednesday night.
Two victims of the crash have been positively identified as Kathleen Kern and Tremaine Balberdi. The identity of the other victim, the pilot, has not been confirmed.
Friday, a family member described 50-year-old Kathleen Kern as a passionate county worker who loved living "the Hawaii dream."
KITV spoke with Kern's brother who said the Vancouver native, "Was passionate about urban planning from a very young age and believed that public spaces were critical to the functioning of communities."
According to Kenneth, his sister came to Hawaii in 2009 to begin working for Maui County in the planning department. She held several degrees, including a masters degree, related to urban planning.
Kern was one of two county workers whose life was claimed by the evening plane crash.
Tremaine Balberdi was with Kathleen, working for the Maui Department of Planning, when the plane went down.
Her husband, George Balberdi recalled the last time he spoke to his wife just a few hours before the crash. "She said 'we're on the runway and we're ready for leave you know so I'll see you there.' I said okay, I said I love you, she said she loved me and we hung up."
George said he received another phone call shortly after, but there was only silence. Moments later his daughter told him of the plane crash.
After trying to find answers by contacting the Queen's Medical Center, the Balberdi family's worst fears were confirmed early Thursday morning. Tremaine was dead.
A final reminder of how loving a parent Tremaine was came when her daughter learned that Tremaine was planning a surprise bridal shower for her.
"She's so wonderful and it's just so hard," said George.
Kathleen and Tremaine were on Lana'i to attend a planning commission hearing for the benefit of the Pineapple Isle's 3,00 residents.
Her husband says Tremaine had been working for the County of Maui for 25 years and was five years away from retirement. He added that she initially was not supposed to attend the meeting, but volunteered for the job.
Three other passengers aboard the plane suffered significant injury, including two who were being treated at The Queen's Medical Center in critical condition at last check.
Their survival is being credited to one of those passengers, James Giroux, who pulled two men from the plane's burning wreckage following the crash.
First responders say Giroux, a Deputy Attorney Corporate Council for the County of Maui, rescued Mark King and Douglas Miller before they arrived. After doing so, he called 911 for help.
Giroux's ex-wife, who flew to Oahu with their two kids, says that Giroux is still shaken up by the tragedy, but is recovering well.
According to Maui Police, the crash that resulted in both heartbreak and heroics happened after the twin-engine Piper PA-31 aircraft crashed one mile southeast of Lana'i Airport in a remote area known as the Miki Basin.
The flight was chartered by Maui Air. It had taken off from that airport at about 9:20 p.m. Wednesday. The call from Giroux came only minutes later.
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane was 39-years-old. It was registered to Maui Aircraft Leasing.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
NTSB records who that there have been 19 crashes on Lana'i since the mid 1960's. Four of them were fatal including Wednesday's crash:
- March of 1965, a student pilot died after crashing a non-commercial piper. That crash blamed on bad weather.
- February of 1980, a non commercial Cessna went down killing two people on board. That crash was also blamed on weather.
- June of 2001, a student pilot was on a practice flight from Maui to Lanai and crashed into land after failing to follow the flight instructor's directions. The student died.