HONOLULU (AP) — One of the women who died in a fiery plane crash on Lanai Island was originally from Canada and pursued a longtime dream to live in Hawaii, her family said Friday.
Kathleen Kern's family released a statement through the Hawaii Department of Health saying she was one of the three who died in Wednesday's crash. The pilot and another Maui County Planning Department employee were killed. Authorities haven't released their names. Three other Maui employees were injured.
The county employees had been on Lanai earlier Wednesday evening for a Lanai Planning Commission meeting and had chartered a return flight on Maui Air. The twin-engine plane burned upon impact when it crashed on former pineapple land about a mile from the Lanai airport.
Kern, 50, was the youngest of eight and was born in Vancouver. She moved to Hawaii in 2009 to work for the Maui planning department.
"Kathleen was passionate about urban planning from a very young age and believed that public spaces were critical to the functioning of communities," the family's statement said. "She had a particular interest in the process of planning and the involvement of the community in that process."
The team had been traveling to Lanai, which is part of Maui County, for planning meetings with the community on a regular basis for many months, sometimes by ferry, sometimes by plane, Maui Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean said.
Health department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said she was asked to disseminate the statement because Kern's sister-in-law is a retired department employee.
"Kathleen's family is devastated with the news of her death," the statement said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. The Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed at a low angle and left an approximately 500-foot debris field, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He said the plane's fuselage was at the far end of the debris field.