The director of Hawaii's Department of Health Loretta Fuddy was killed Wednesday in a plane crash. The eight other passengers onboard survived.
By Henry Austin and Christopher Nelson, NBC News
The health director who approved the release of President Obama’s birth certificate has died in a plane crash, Hawaiian officials said Thursday.
Loretta Fuddy died after the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft she was travelling on went down shortly after leaving Kalaupapa Airport at around 3:15 p.m. local time (10:15 a.m. ET) on Wednesday.
The other eight people on board were rescued, Richard Schuman, president of Makani Kai Air, told NBC News early Thursday, adding that that there was no indication as to why the plane had crashed.
Fuddy hit the headlines two years ago when she approved a waiver request allowing Obama to access certified copies of his birth certificate, signed by the delivery doctor, Obama’s mother and the local registrar. His mother, then 18, signed her name (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama.
So-called "birthers" opposed to Obama including real estate mogul Donald Trump had long questioned why Obama hadn't ensured the long form was released.
Hawaiian Senator Will Espero paid tribute to the 65-year-old on his Facebook page.
"It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy,” he wrote. “She was a respected professional who served our state with pride and distinction. Rest in peace with the angels Director Fuddy.”
After being alerted to the crash, the U.S. Coast Guard scrambled two helicopters and a Hercules plane to the site, which was about a mile from the shore. Rescue swimmers were also deployed and they winched three passengers onto the helicopters.
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