Search Underway for Medical Transport Plane with 3 Onboard After It Goes Down Off Hawaii Coast

Search Underway for Medical Transport Plane with 3 Onboard After It Goes Down Off Hawaii Coast
US Coast Guard cutter Maui

US Coast Guard cutter Maui


The US Coast Guard is searching for an ambulance plane that crashed into the sea near Hawaii overnight.

Officials are searching by air and sea for a report of “a crashed plane in the Maui Channel,” according to the Coast Guard’s 14th District. It should have been three people on board.

Global Medical Response has confirmed that the aircraft is a Hawaii Life Flight fixed-wing emergency aircraft used for medical transport, a spokesman for Hawaii Life Flight told PEOPLE.

The plane went off radar around 9:30 p.m. local time Thursday while traveling from Maui to Waimea Big Island, the spokesman said. There were no patients on the plane at the time of the crash.

“We ask everyone to pray that we find her safely,” Global Medical Response said in a post on Facebook.

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The Coast Guard said the plane reportedly lost contact with the Honolulu Control Facility about 15 nautical miles offshore south of Hana, according to Hawaii News Now.

The crashed plane is described as Twin Propeller King Air, according to ABC affiliate KITV.

A flight instructor from George’s Aviation told the station he witnessed the incident and said he was “really shaken up”. The instructor, who requested anonymity, recalled hearing a voice from the plane telling air traffic control that the plane had lost its navigation system before watching it go down.

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“I immediately looked at him out the window, and when I turned to look at him, I kind of saw him pointing down at us,” the flight instructor said, according to the outlet.

“Then he made a right turn, like a downward spiral. I’ve never seen an airplane just fly straight down,” he added. “I saw it hit the water and then its navigation lights kind of disappeared into the darkness.”

A search is ongoing for the missing plane and its passengers, the Coast Guard said.

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Hawaii Life Flight has suspended transport flights during the search, the spokesman told PEOPLE, adding that Global Medical Response is notifying family members of the missing persons who were on the plane.

“Our immediate focus is to assist the search and rescue teams,” the spokesman said. “Please think of our team members.”

A post on the company’s Facebook page reads, “We’re doing everything we can to bring our team members home.”

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