HANAPEPE — Michael Cabe watched his two sons, Phillip and Marshall, climb aboard the single-engine Cessna 182H Skylane at the Port Allen Airport Monday.
Standing a few feet from the plane, he recorded the boys’ excitement — a Kauai skydiving experience they’d never forget. A gift from dad.
Not more than 10 minutes later, as the 51-year-old aircraft ascended, Michael remembers the sound the plane made.
“I watched the plane taxi. I watched my boys come down the runway,” Michael said. “I watched them come up. I watched them pull up and — POP!”
Michael watched in horror, screaming as the plane flew straight up, perpendicular to the ground, but then fell backward. When it hit the grassy field below, it was a ball of flames. Michael darted across the field.
His boys were in that plane and he was going to pull them out.
As Michael ran across the field when the plane went down, he had to jump over a small fence to get to the crash site, he said. When he got there, another man, Jason, was trying to pull one of the men from the burning wreckage.
“Between the two of us, we dragged these bodies out,” Michael said.
Michael pulled Phillip out of the airplane and when he tried to get Marshall, he said, “it was a wall of fire.”
“The heat coming out of there was hotter than anything I’ve ever been around,” said 59-year-old Michael, a general contractor.
Michael and Jason pulled Phillip and a second body from the crash about 10 feet from the wreckage, when someone said for them to get away from the plane because it was full of fuel.
They dragged the two bodies another 20 or 30 feet from the crash site, when Michael began administering CPR on his son.
“I was pulling the blood out of my son’s gurgling lungs, while the other son was on fire with the other guy,” Michael said.
When the emergency medical services responders arrived, Michael was still performing CPR on his son.
“They brought out a machine to put on him,” Michael said. “There was no heartbeat, there was a murmur.”
It was the last time he saw his son alive.
Phillip was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The pilot, Damien Horan, 30, and skydiving instructors Enzo Amitrano, 43, and Wayne Rose, 26, also died in the crash, which remains under investigation.
On Kauai to celebrate
Just a week ago, the family — Michael, 25-year-old Marshall, 27-year-old Phillip, and grandparents Susie Faye and Alan Fayé of Princeville — celebrated the boys’ birthdays.
As a present, the Cabe brothers had settled on scuba diving certifications and when their father rewarded them with a trip to Kauai as a gift for graduating from Cameron University, it was set.
But scuba diving didn’t work out and Susie said she had been uncomfortable with the idea of scuba diving.
On Saturday, Army veteran Marshall and Air Force veteran Phillip were at Salt Pond Beach swimming when they saw a skydiving opportunity and decided they wanted to skydive, too, Susie said.
On Sunday, they booked a tour with Skydive Kauai owned by David Timko.
That night, the two brothers debated about actually wanting to go through with the skydive, their grandfather said.
Marshall was reluctant, but after some prodding the two decided that they’d jump out of the plane the following morning together, he said.
The Cabes had to leave by 6:30 a.m. out of Princeville to make their 9:30 a.m. take off time in Hanapepe.
“Phillip was definitely not a morning person,” Susie said, smiling, recalling a moment when he was offered a chance at morning yoga classes from a neighbor but grumbled at the idea of the classes being at 8:30 in the morning.
In his haste to get to Hanapepe Monday, Phillip grabbed his grandpa’s boots instead of his own, Alan Faye said. The two owned the same pair, except the sizes were different. Alan wears an 11 and Phillip wears a 10 and a half.
The three of them took off in Michael’s truck and headed to the Port Allen Airport.
After their briefing, the two brothers were ready to depart.
A father’s faith
Michael has been dealing with the tragedy in his own way, his step-father Alan said.
“Michael is going to have that moment when he really comes down and cries,” Alan Faye said. “I don’t think he’s shed a tear yet. I haven’t seen him. He’s a very strong person.”
A devout Christian, Michael spends a lot of time holding a Bible that’s worn down from so much use. The pages are all brown because he reads it every day, Faye said.
Michael said he’s been to the crash site every day since the accident.
He’s been talking to spiritual advisers and mentors to seek their guidance.
“If I am sad, they will be sad. If I am happy, they will be happy,” Michael said, referring to his two sons who he believes have passed on to a greater calling. “So it’s not good for me to be sad on this. I went and blessed that land every day. I blessed the aina. I thank God for these two great, wonderful boys in my life and for the opportunity this last week.”
Two Koa urns will be carved and donated for the ashes of the brothers, who were cremated Friday. Their remains will be flown to Lawton, Oklahoma today when Michael returns them to their mother.
“They were charismatic,” Michael said of his two sons. “Marshall was about as wild as a spirit as I am. Phillip was a little more reserved, but still goofy. They were very talented. Very disciplined.”
Phillip was a talented artist and musician, taking his musical gifts from his father, Susie said.
Upon arrival in Oklahoma, the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, a house the two belonged to, plans to escort Michael and the brothers to the services at Cameron University.
“There’s no blame here,” said Michael, a strong believer in preordained destiny. “That was the time booked for this accident.”