"I know is there was a bang and I had an annunciator panel that was nothing but red and yellow lights, and a fire warning was going off, and I was like 'okay I'm in trouble,'" said Makani Kai pilot Clyde Kawasaki.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board confirm Kawasaki was forced to ditch his Cessna Caravan after the plane's engine lost power.
It happened a mere two minutes after Kawasaki took off from Kalaupapa on Dec. 11th.
Eight passengers were on board, including state Health Director Loretta Fuddy.
"It was pure luck they were there when we were. I just wanted to get as much help as we could," said pilot Josh Lang.
He and his girlfriend spotted the plane and assisted in their rescue.
The NTSB confirmed everyone, including Fuddy, exited the plane alive and had life vests on, but rescue crews say she was unresponsive when they reached her 80 minutes later.
"I remember lurching off to one side and hitting my head, and one of the first things I saw when I came back up was in the cockpit, there was just blood all over," said Kawasaki.
The report said Kawasaki and two other passengers sustained serious injuries, while five others had minor injuries.
Fuddy died a short time after the emergency landing.
The NTSB says the plane landed intact and floated for 25 minutes, before it sank.
Salvage crews said rough waters chopped up the plane, but they did find most parts and all of the engine.
They also found tools and a tool belt belonging to one passenger.
Makani Kai president Richard Schuman said he's already paid to replace cell phones, laptops, and even a wedding ring.
"It's important to me because it's the right thing to do. A lot of people have sentimental aspects of things that we have to try our best to get back to them, regardless of the cost of them," said Shuman.
Schuman told KITV on Tuesday that the engine is on its way to Canada, and that the NTSB will have its investigative team assembled by late January.
That investigative team will include Makani Kai's Maintence Director.
Schuman expects that part of the investigation will last a couple of days.