WASHINGTON — Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Thursday released the following statement on the passing of State Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who was killed in a plane crash Wednesday off Kalaupapa:

Loretta Fuddy
Loretta Fuddy

“I join many people in Hawaii today in mourning the sudden, tragic passing of Loretta Fuddy. Loretta was a dedicated public servant who spent most of her life working to improve public health on behalf of Hawaii’s families. It was a privilege to work with Loretta since my time in the Hawaii State Legislature. She touched so many lives and will be missed. Our thoughts are with Loretta’s loved ones, as well as the recovering victims of the plane crash.”

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The other eight people aboard the plane, including Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto, survived. Fuddy and Yamamoto had just made an annual visit to Kalaupapa, a peninsula on the north side of Molokai where leprosy patients were once exiled.

Tom Matsuda, interim executive director of the state’s health insurance exchange, said in a statement, “”I cannot even begin to convey what a terrible loss this is for Hawaii. I worked closely with Director Fuddy on the Affordable Care Act and came to know and respect her as a passionate advocate for public health and a warm, caring human being.”

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