It was 4 a.m. when the helicopter lifted off from Barbers Point Air Station in torrential rains and heavy winds. They were responding to a distress call from the Pan Am, a 74-foot fishing boat that was taking on water off Maui and was in danger of sinking. By 5:15 a.m., the Coast Guard had lost radio contact with the crew. Almost nine hours later, another helicopter discovered the wreckage on a steep ridge in Moloka'i's Wailau Valley. Thompson, Johnson and Cain died in the crash.
Lt. Cain, 29, of Burlington, Iowa, was the Coast Guard's first woman pilot to be killed during a mission.