On Wednesday there was a plane crash on Lanai island in which three people died, and three others were injured. Lanai is 98% owned by Larry Ellison of Oracle.
The aircraft was a twin-engine Piper PA 31 belonging to Maui Air. Shortly after takeoff at 9.30 p.m., the plane crashed about a mile from the airport and burst into flames, according to a report from ABC News.
The dead were identified by Maui County workers as the pilot and two employees from the Department of Planning.
Two other injured employees were in a critical condition, and the deputy attorney for the Corporation Counsel was in serious condition, according to a nursing supervisor at Queen’s Medical Center. They were later flown to a hospital in Honolulu.
Lanai is part of Maui County; county officials travel frequently between the islands via plane or ferry. This particular group had been on Lanai earlier Wednesday evening for a meeting, and chartered a return flight on Maui Air.
The Mayor of Maui gave a news conference on Thursday in which he explained tearfully how employees of the county are regarded as family:
“We’re a very small community,” he said. “Everybody knows each other. Everybody works with each other. Any kind of a loss like this really hits home.”
State Sen. J. Kalani English, who represents Lanai and flies frequently between Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai, said:
“These flights are very familiar to me. It’s one of the hazards of our topography, being a multi-island county and district. Hawaii has very, very safe airports and very, very safe flight routes.
For us, I mean government officials, because we have to fly so much to these areas, the probability goes up.”
Police spokesman Lt. William Juan said names of the crash victims could not be released at this time.
However, Mayor Arakawa did reveal that the the two Planning Department employees who died in the plane crash were women. The three surviving men suffered second- and third-degrees burns to their faces and hands, he said.
In 2012, Billionaire Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp., bought 98 percent of Lanai from another billionaire, David Murdock, at a figure reputed to be over $500 million.
He explained to financial news channel CNBC that he envisioned Lanai becoming a “little laboratory” for experimenting with more environmentally sound ways to live.
Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian islands and was once a pineapple plantation.On the island there are some 3,200 residents, one school, one hospital – and no traffic lights.
One of Lanai’s few claims to fame is that it hosted the wedding of Microsoft’s Bill and Melinda Gates in 1994. They chose the location for its relative remoteness, and the ability for them to keep away from the media spotlight.
[Video] NTSB spokesman talks about the Lanai plane crash investigation: