Dramatic new video footage shows the moment a small plane crashed in December, killing the director of Hawaii's Department of Health Loretta Fuddy – the woman who verified and released President Obama's birth certificate.
As the engine stalled and the 2002 Cessna Grand Caravan began its descent into the waters off Hawaii, passenger Ferdinand Puentes turned on his video camera and began recording.
Footage shows the alarm sounding and the plane’s impact. Water quickly fills the cabin as passengers scramble toward the exit door. They're seen using the plane’s wings, inflatable life vests and seat cushions for flotation. Incredibly, the pilot was able to outfit each passenger with an inflatable life vest.
Another pilot, Josh Lang, and his girlfriend, Jaimee Thomson, were flying nearby on a leisure trip and spotted the plane and the survivors in the water.
They contacted the Molokai tower and flew to the airport at Kalaupapa to look for help.
Rescue swimmers and helicopters were dispatched to pluck the survivors from the water.
"It was pure luck that we were there when we were," said Lang at a press conference. "I wanted to get as much help as I could."
Fuddy, 65, was among nine people on board the plane. She was the only person killed in the crash off the coast of Kalaupapa, Molokai, on Dec. 11.
KITV-TV in Honolulu reported Fuddy had been on health department business. Keith Yamamoto, the department’s deputy director, also was aboard and survived.
Although not seen in the footage, Fuddy escaped the plane using a life vest and clung to Yamamoto's hand while floating in the water, the Rev. Patrick Killilea told the Associated Press. When a swimmer reached them, Fuddy reportedly was not responsive and didn’t have a pulse.
“He recounted how he said he helped Loretta into her life jacket and he held her hand for some time,” the priest told the news agency. "They were all floating together, and she let go and there was no response from her."
One passenger, C. Philip Holstein, an Army veteran, was surprised to later hear she had died. "She was doing fine out of the airplane," Holstein told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. "Her assistant was really watching her. He was taking care of her."
The pilot, Clyde Kawasaki, also said in a press conference he did not understand how she died. "I could not understand how that could have happened at the time, excuse me, that she could have passed. I didn’t understand how it could have happened," he said.
The crash was reportedly caused by engine failure shortly after takeoff.
In 20 years, Makani Kai Air, the only airline that serves Kalaupapa, has not had any accidents, according to CEO Richard Schuman. Fuddy's death marks the company’s first fatality.
WND has reported since before the 2008 election on the dispute over Obama’s birth documentation.
Fuddy was appointed health director by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who issued a statement in response to her death.
"Our hearts are broken," he said, according to USA Today. "Loretta was deeply loved and respected. She was selfless, utterly dedicated and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii. Her knowledge was vast; her counsel and advice always given from her heart as much as from her storehouse of experience."
Recently she had been working on the state’s Obamacare website.
Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser regarding Obama’s birth documentation: "It actually exists in the archives, written down." The London Daily Mail reported, however, Abercrombie "suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health."
Later, Obama asked for copies of the document, and under Fuddy, the state instantly waived a long-claimed ban on reproducing long-form birth certificates. On Fuddy’s instructions, copies were produced and delivered to Judith Corley, a private attorney for Obama.
Fuddy had written to Obama: "We hope that issuing you these copies of your original Certificate of Live Birth will end the numerous inquiries received by the Hawaii Department of Health to produce this document."
Immediately after the delivered copy was posted on the White House website, however, numerous computer graphics and software experts declared it fraudulent.