Ferdinand Puentes, along with eight other passengers and a pilot, was on a routine tour flight run by Makani Kai Air on Dec. 11, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Shortly after taking off from Kalaupapa Airport, passengers described a bang and subsequent engine failure. The pilot, Clyde Kawasaki, glided the plane onto the water and instructed the passengers to don life jackets, according to local news reports.
The Coast Guard reached the passengers after about 80 minutes, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane sank after about 25 minutes.
One passenger, Loretta Fuddy, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, died in the water after the crash. Officials are still trying to determine the cause of death.
Puentes posted the photo on his Facebook page on Dec. 31. He told khon2 that the pilot gave him a seat cushion to use as an extra flotation device. “Steel-toed boots, heavy work jeans, and long sleeve shirt. It was hard and exhausting to swim with all that,” he said.
A dive team was eventually able to recover the company’s Cessna 208 Caravan, a single-engine turboprop plane, from the Pacific Ocean. The engine will be shipped to the manufacturer for analysis.
Puentes, for his part, also told the local news station of the ordeal: “A lot of things seem petty now. Can’t take things for granted.”