Honolulu veterinarian, son were aboard plane that crashed near Palolo
The remains of two victims have been recovered today in and near the wreckage of a single-engine Piper Cherokee that crashed yesterday off the Lanipo Trail near Kaau Crater.
Charlie Palumbo told The Advertiser's Lee Cataluna this morning that his father, Honolulu veterinarian Nicholas Palumbo, and Charlie's brother, Tim, were aboard the plane.
The first set of remains was returned to the recovery operation's staging area at Waialae Iki Park shortly before 11 this morning. The second set of remains was found shortly after 11:30, about 200 feet below the wreckage, and was brought to Waialae Iki Park shortly after noon.
Family spokeswoman Julie Moody, who was Nicholas Palumbo’s sister in law, said Nicholas Palumbo was 81 and Tim Palumbo was 20.
“The Palumbo family suffered a devastating loss,” Moody said. “The family is clearly in a state of shock and grief.”
Tim Palumbo, a student at Kalani High School, was the youngest son of Nicholas Palumbo, who has eight children.
Nicholas Palumbo was making the commute from Lanai where he ran a veterinarian practice to Honolulu, where he worked at a cat clinic when the crash occurred. He had made that same flight multiple times and has had his pilot’s since he was 19 years old.
Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said the site of the crash "is on a steep plank on a ridge line" and that the wreckage is in a "precarious position."
Firefighters aboard the department's Air 2 helicopter had to rappel to the ground and then hike to the crash site, Seelig said.
The crash happened shortly before 2 p.m. yesterday. Sixteen units and about 55 firefighters were dispatched after reports of a downed aircraft and subsequent fire near the Wiliwili Nui Trail above Waialae Iki.
Firefighters and police confirmed the crash was off the Lanipo Trail at an elevation of about 1,900 feet. Rescuers tried to hike in, but were turned back because of heavy vegetation and a police helicopter was called in to insert rescuers to the site.
The fire department said in a news release that due to the condition of the Piper Cherokee's wreckage, it was clear there were no survivors, and with darkness falling, rescuers had to be pulled out.
The plane was registered to Palumbo, who owns The Cat Clinic on Kapahulu Avenue, which calls itself Hawaii's only animal hospital exclusively for cats.