(OAHU, Hawaii) — Eleven people were killed when a sky diving plane crashed on the island of Oahu Friday, making it the worst U.S. civil plane accident since 2011.
The twin-engine King Air plane crashed Friday about 6:30 p.m. local time and killed everyone on board, according to the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
Initial reports indicated nine people were on the plane before the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday afternoon that 11 died.
“There’s nothing left of the plane,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel P. Neves told reporters at the airport.
Dillingham Airfield is located on the northwest coast of Oahu, the opposite side from the state’s capital of Honolulu. The airfield is used for both military and civilian aircraft.
The same plane was involved in a near-accident in July 2016, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. The Beech 65-A90 sustained “substantial damage” while taking of from an airport in Byron, California, but the 14 sky divers and pilot were not injured.
“I am closely following the tragic developments out of Dillingham Airfield this evening,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a tweet. “At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.”
“There was a fire close to the fence line, we extinguished the fire, so luckily because it was accessible we could get to the fire right away,” Neves said. “We’re collecting information; it was a sky-dive aircraft.”
“We have witnesses that say it was inbound so we’re not sure right now [whether it left the airfield], we’re gathering information,” he added.
There were family members of those on the plane who were waiting at the airfield, Neves said.
Among those killed was Casey Williamson, an employee of Oahu Parachute Center, which owned the plane.
“Casey Williamson was one of a kind who lived life to the fullest. He was a free spirited lover of life and people,” his family said in a statement. “He was a friend to all he met. His smile and love for life was contagious. Our family will not be the same without our sweet Casey.”
There were at least six employees of the sky-dive company on the flight.
“It is very difficult,” he said. “In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii this is the most tragic aircraft incident that we’ve had. We’ve had some helicopters with the military, but this is a civilian plane that went down with that many people on board.”
One man who was hiking in the area of the airfield said he saw fire trucks, police and helicopters rush to the scene. When he got closer to the scene he spoke to a couple who saw the plane take off.
“I talked to a couple on my way from the other side [of the airport]; they said they saw the plane, it looks like it was taking off and it looked a little wobbly and that’s the last they could see of it,” eyewitness Jonathan Keating said.
“With extreme sadness HDOT reports there were 9 souls on board the King Air twin engine plane that went down near Dillingham Airfield with no apparent survivors,” the DOT tweeted.
The coroner’s officer in Hawaii later told the FAA that no one survived the crash.
There was a more recent military plane crash with more casualties: a C-130 crash in Mississippi in July 2017 that killed 16.
Sixteen people were also killed in a hot air balloon accident in Texas in July 2016.
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