Pilot, passenger in Big Isle crash died of multiple traumatic injuries
Hawaii County police said Friday that autopsies have concluded that the pilot and passenger of an ultralight aircraft that crashed into Kealakekua Bay on Wednesday died of multiple traumatic injuries.
Tedd Robert Hecklin, 38, was the pilot and owner of Tedd's Flying Adventures in Kailua, Kona. His passenger was Kathryn Moran of Kailua, Kona, who was celebrating her 37th birthday with the flight as a gift.
Witnesses said the Airborne Outback XT-912 SST Tundra — which resembles a powered hang glider — was banking left when they heard a loud popping sound. The craft's wing then folded up, and the vehicle plunged about 300 feet into the bay.
Crew from tour and snorkeling boats in the bay pulled Hecklin and Moran from the water and performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation while transporting the them to ambulances waiting on shore.
The two were taken to Kona Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
The craft has yet to be recovered.
The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation.
Meanwhile, more information was becoming available about Hecklin.
The Reno Gazette Journal reported that he ran a heavy equipment business in Reno called Sierra Dirt Works before closing last year.
On its website, West Hawaii Today said friends were mourning Hecklin's loss on his Facebook page.
"My best friend ... died yesterday ... doing what he loved," reads a post by Darin Nelson. "He had the guts to do what we all talk about, leave the rat race and love life again. He loved to make people happy and fly."
Nelson's post says Hecklin's excavating company fell victim to the recession and that "he packed up his ... son Danny and a couple of suitcases and moved to Hawaii."
"He loved people and life," the post goes on. "Surviving cancer, divorce and bankruptcy, there was never a day he didn't have a smile on his face."
On the Net:
West Hawaii Today: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2010/04/23/local/local03.txt