The Hawaiian Health Director who made headlines for approving the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate died in a plane crash on Wednesday.
According to NBC News, Loretta Fuddy, 65, and eight other people were traveling on a small, Cessna Grand Caravan airplane that left from Kalaupapa Airport after 3 p.m. local time. Shortly after it left the airport, the plane crashed into the water near the Hawaiian island cost of Molokai, USA Today reported. Fuddy was the only casualty.
"Our hearts are broken," Governor Neil Abercrombie said in a statement, USA Today reported. "She was selfless, utterly dedicated and committed to her colleagues in the Department of Health and to the people of Hawaii."
There's no news as to the why the singe-engine plane crashed, Makani Kai Air President Richard Schuman told NBC News. The National Transportation Safety Board told NBC News they sent "at least one investigator to the scene."
Schuman told Hawaii-based KITV that he spoke with the pilot.
"What he reported is after takeoff...there was a catastrophic engine failure," Schuman said. "He did the best he can to bring the aircraft down safely and he got everybody out of the aircraft."
Fuddy was Hawaii's state health director since 2011. That same year, president Obama faced opposition from "birthers" who wanted proof that Obama was a U.S. citizen. Real-estate magnate Donald Trump was a notable "birther" who pressured Obama into releasing his birth records. Fuddy confirmed the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate from Hawaii, the president's home state.
State Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo told USA Today that Fuddy was visiting patients from an old leper colony on the Kalaupapa peninsula that was there since 1969. Hawaiian lawmaker Will Espero expressed his sadness for her death on his Facebook page, NBC News reported.
"She was a respected professional who served our state with pride and distinction," he wrote. "Rest in peace with the angels Director Fuddy."