Thursday, February 2, 2012

January 31, 2004

Mandy Shiraki, Danny Villiaros, and Ron Laubacher departed for the island of Hawaii to transport an injured child. The aircraft did not reach their destination, an overdue aircraft EP was followed. I think anyone who knew Mandy would agree, I was sure they would find then on the ground somewhere, a little beat up, but Mandy would emerge with a makeshift splint on a broken leg, carrying Danny over one shoulder and Ron over the other. Mandy was invincible and this would surely give him stories to share for a long time to come.

The wreckage was located February 2 with no survivors. This was devastating news for many people. This was the 2nd air ambulance accident in Hawaii's history. Mandy was (and still is!) a cornerstone in local EMS. Mandy's parents, sisters, daughter, sons, grandson, wife, many nieces and nephews and countless friends miss him deeply.

Danny Villiaros always had a smile on his face and laughed easily. He was a paramedic-firefighter who recently was granted an award for bravery when he unarmed a patient he encountered, protecting his fellow fire fighters from harm. Danny was the newbie at the job, but we have all known him for years. Danny left behind a large extended family, a daughter, son, and also countless friends that mourn his loss.

Ron Laubacher was from the mainland but fit in well here. He was a pilot we enjoyed flying with, one of the "team". He had sharp wit, a sarcastic humor, even as a pilot he understood and participated in our medical humor. Ron was a single social butterfly. He had many friends and always had a lot of fun when he wasn't flying. I teased him I enjoyed living vicariously thru his stories. Ron's family and many friends miss him tremendously.

Never Forget

~ Alexandra Farnsworth

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I never cease to be amazed about the people who have come into my life since losing my best friend in an air medical accident March 8, 2008. One such example is Jason and Jen Haynes.

Jason contacted me about a position with our flight program when we first started up. When we first talked he and his wife were still on the main land. As I can recall, we emailed back and forth and then had a phone conversation or two. He sounded like a nice guy with a southern accent (not very common around these parts) and he had very strong work experience. Jason and his wife, Jen, were going to be in Hawaii and they wanted to stop by to check out the program. When they came into town I showed Jason and Jen around. One of our aircraft was named “The Lena”, in memory of Marlena. I felt compelled to explain to them the relevance of the name as well as our company’s dedication to safety. It had been less than a year since the accident; I suppose the level of my anguish was apparent despite my attempts to remain professional. 

I felt confident that Jason would be a great asset to the company as well as a good fit with the crew. However, I was disappointed to learn that they had decided not to settle in Hawaii just yet but may return after living out of country for a while.

I’m not sure why but we seemed to have an instant connection. They would send an email periodically just to say hello and ask how my English Bulldog Petunia was doing and I would keep up with their adventures by reading their blog. I was thrilled when they told me they were ready to settle in Hawaii. Unfortunately I had made a decision to make a change in my career path and left the program shortly after Jason started. Through the assistance of social networking and the Internet we managed to keep in touch over the next few years.

Jason and Jen returned to the mainland and Jason is working with another flight program. We got to see each other again at AMTC in Florida. His hair was a little different, but it seemed like nothing else had changed. I missed him this year in St. Louis but was happy to receive a phone call from him recently. He told me about an e-magazine that Jen had started. He said she was working on a piece about flight nurses and she wanted to highlight the Air Medical Memorial by sharing my story about Marlena. I am always excited to talk about Marlena or the Air Medical Memorial and associated organizations, so of course I said yes.

After reading the article and reflecting on the recent phone calls with Jason and Jen I had an epiphany. I was astounded when considering all of the truly special people I have met since losing Marlena. Of course I would give ANYTHING to have her back, these people have been a blessing to me in so many ways. In addition, the opportunity to be involved with organizations that are working to make positive changes in our industry has made me feel more in control and less of a victim as well as help me deal with all of the pain and anger of losing a best friend.

I would really like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you, who whether you know it or not, have been a blessing to me. Thank you!!!

Never Forget, Be Vigilant, Fly Safe,