Lawsuit Filed in Loretta Fuddy’s Death
The brother of former state Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy said in a lawsuit filed last Monday that a faulty engine is to blame for the Makani Kai plane’s ocean landing off Kalaupapa last December that caused his sister’s death.
According to The Associated Press (AP), Lewis Fuddy Jr. is suing engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation over the Dec. 11 crash that killed his sister. The pilot and seven other passengers on the flight survived without major injuries, but Loretta Fuddy died in the water after exiting the sinking Cessna Grand Caravan. Autopsy results concluded she died of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, following the crash.
A federal investigation of the accident by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has yet to be released on what exactly caused the plane crash. However, Richard Fried, the Honolulu attorney representing Fuddy’s family and estate, claims Pratt & Whitney Canada knew about a fault in the engine’s turbine blades and did nothing to correct the problem.
According to the AP, the lawsuit contends the manufacturer was aware of a tendency of the turbine blades to stretch when heated, which then causes the engine to lose power, but neglected to take action.
A preliminary NTSB report confirms engine loss of engine power.
“The pilot stated that shortly after takeoff, a loud bang was heard and there was a total loss of power,” states the NTSB report, adding that the pilot, Clyde Kawasaki, then glided the aircraft into the water. “All the passengers put on their life preservers and exited the airplane. U.S. Coast Guard and Maui Fire and Rescue personnel recovered the passengers approximately 80 minutes later.”
Several passengers sustained injuries, and Fuddy died in the water.
“We purposely did not name the pilot, because there’s no basis that he did anything wrong,” said Fried, quoted by the AP.
The AP report states that Makani Kai Air, is, however, named in the suit, but it is unclear at this time what claims are being made against the airline.
Makani Kai owner Richard Schuman was unavailable for comment but told the AP last week that he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit.