WAIPAHU, Hawaii — The uncle of a pilot who died in a plane crash with three others said the plane previously had engine troubles.
Rescue crews recovered the bodies of pilot Dean Hutton and his three passengers Saturday. The single-engine plane crashed in a mountainous area northwest of Honolulu.
Crews have not been able to retrieve the plane wreckage.
“In this case it’s a very remote area. Our rescue personnel had to rappel off of our Air 1 helicopter to be inserted into the mountainside,” said Craig Uchimura, Honolulu Fire Department battalion chief. “It’s pretty treacherous up there. We’d be unable to get up there by vehicle, much less by foot. The rescue personnel did not report having any fuel or signs of fire at this time.”
The passengers were 28-year-old Punahou School alumnus Gerrit Evensen, 27-year-old Heather Riley and Alexis Aaron, said spokeswoman Lyssa Chapman from the “Dog the Bounty Hunter” TV show. Chapman and Evensen’s sister, Lei, had reported the group missing on Saturday.
The last time Hutton flew the same rental plane, it lost all power and communications, Scott Potwin, Hutton’s uncle said. Hutton was an experienced pilot with over 170 hours of flying time, Potwin said.
“He had been doing it quite a few times in the last couple of weeks,” he said. “But the plane he rented had problems. It’s got problems.”
The plane was owned by John P. Mueller, according the Federal Aviation Administration’s registration site. The name is similar to the owner in a separate plane that crashed earlier this month, Jahn P. Mueller. Both names are registered with the FAA under the same post office box, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Mueller did not return calls seeking comment.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating the crash.