Victims in small plane crash remembered as loving, full of joy
Three passengers and a pilot were killed when their small plane went down in the Waianae mountains, leaving friends and family with memories of happier times.
Family and friends have identified the four victims, who died in a small plane crash above Kunia farmlands, as Gerrit Evensen, his girlfriend Heather Riley, and their friends, Alexis Aaron and pilot Dean Hutton.
The bodies of the three passengers and pilot were recovered on Saturday, at the wreckage of a single-engine plane in the Waianae mountains-- leaving friends and family with memories of happier times.
"Heather, she was just always smiling. She always had such a good attitude.. everywhere she went she radiated joy.. she was like the sunshine in somebody's cloudy day.. she was just so -- this is so hard," said Michelle Curiel, a close friend of three of the victims.
Riley was a successful business owner at Hawaii Design Studios, Curiel said. She is remembered by friends as a kind, loving and caring person.
27-year-old Riley was dating Evensen, 28, another who lost his life that day.
"The way they looked into each others eyes-- they were just so deeply in love and so happy. Both of them were-- they had the kind of love that most people wish they had in their lifetime," Curiel added.
Evensen's family said in a statement they will always remember him as a passionate and knowledgeable man. They say the Punahou alum had just started his own business last month, and add that Riley and him complimented each other perfectly.
His sister, Lei Evensen said in a statement:
"Gerrit was the best person. The best. My best friend. He was the most passionate, inspiring, knowledgeable and caring guy. And my loving little brother. Anyone that met him could see and feel his amazing spirit..
..We will miss him dearly and will continue to follow through with both of their visions and passion to help improve the world."
The third victim, 32-year-old Alexis Aaron had deep love for the ocean, her nephew Rob Gammon said.
A native of Texas, he says Aaron had studied Marine Biology, and had always dreamed of living in Hawaii.
"Oh man.. one of the most beautiful souls on the earth. Very friendly, outgoing.. the type of person that you would meet at random and would just strike up a conversation with you and you'd be like, 'Wow, I'm happy that I'm with that person,'" Gammon said.
Friends of the pilot, Dean Hutton told Island News they're still in shock that he's gone.
Hutton's friends said the he had just moved to the Islands from South Carolina, and had talked about getting into commercial piloting.
"He is a very free-spirited guy, but also a very intelligent guy.. and one who would never put anyone at risk," Hutton's friend, Andy Lassiter said. "I have nothing but confidence that as a pilot he was fully capable after doing hundred of flights -- to do a basic sunset flight around the island."
A celebration of life is being held for all of the victims on Friday, August 11th at Magic Island from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Lassiter told Island News an additional paddle out is scheduled Hutton, who loved to surf, on Tuesday, August 1st in the waters off South Carolina.
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