WAILUKU - Customers and friends of Jose Krall, the Wailuku pastry chef whose plane is missing and may have crashed into the ocean Saturday evening, made the trip to his bakery Monday morning to grieve and leave lei for the man they say made their stomachs and hearts happy.
"I'm just here to say goodbye to him. I'm already feeling the void," said customer Emanuela Vinciguerra, as she stood at the Maui Bake Shop & Deli entrance on Vineyard Street on Monday morning looking at the lei, flowers and notes left for Krall.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard said Monday evening that the search for Krall and his plane had been suspended as of 3 p.m. The Coast Guard had been searching the waters between Maui and Molokai since Saturday with a helicopter, a HC-130 Hercules plane with an infrared sensor, the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and boat crews from Coast Guard Station Maalaea.
Musician Clayton Logue places a maile lei on the door of the Maui Bake Shop & Deli on Monday morning in Wailuku. Logue, a frequent customer, and his dog came to grieve with Claire Fujii-Krall, the wife of pastry chef and owner of the shop Jose Krall, whose Cessna 172 is believed to have crashed off of Maui’s north coast Saturday night.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
"The decision to suspend a search is one of the hardest a commanding officer has to make," said Capt. Joanna Nunan, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu commanding officer, in a news release Monday evening. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Krall during this difficult time."
On Sunday, Coast Guard officials said that a debris field, including a plane wheel, landing gear, a life jacket and an aircraft antenna, "that appears to be from an aircraft" had been found in waters two miles north of Maui. The Coast Guard said that the landing gear wheel in the debris "could match the aircraft," but officials have not been able to confirm with certainty that it was the missing Cessna flown by Krall.
Ian Gregor, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration's Pacific Region, said that the wreckage is believed to be from the missing plane but could not confirm it. He did not have any updates Monday as to the cause of the incident.
Vinciguerra said she last saw Krall on Friday. The bakery customer, who also is the marketing and sales director of Kumu Farms, was brainstorming with Krall about using organically grown produce in his baked goods. She was supposed to meet with him again today.
She said his croissants tasted the way they do in France, where Krall was born. She also loved his quiche.
"I'm lost," she added. "He was very creative."
Another customer, Clayton Logue, who visited the bakery three to four times a week, sobbed as he hugged Krall's wife, Claire Fujii-Krall, who believes her husband perished when the plane went off radar screens Saturday evening.
Logue, a musician who lives nearby, brought a maile lei and hung it on the door of the bakery, which was closed Monday morning. He said he would come for the quiche and bread. For one of his birthdays, Krall made him a chocolate cake topped with a grand piano made out of fondant.
Logue cried as Fujii-Krall handed him a portion of the last quiche prepared by the 51-year-old Krall.
At least one customer Monday morning was puzzled as to why the bake shop was closed, not knowing that it was Krall who was involved in the missing aircraft incident.
Fujii-Krall said that her husband was the "breadwinner" and that she couldn't run the bakery without him.
Krall had departed from Kahului Airport en route to Molokai on Saturday night and was about 2 miles north of Kahului at 7 p.m., according to the FAA. Fujii-Krall was told that her husband tried to turn around and return to Maui because of hazy conditions.
The Coast Guard has said that the pilot likely crash-landed in the ocean.
Fujii-Krall, who remained calm and collected Monday during an interview, again thanked the first responders and the Coast Guard.
"I knew it was him," said Fujii-Krall after she heard the report of the plane debris. "I really appreciate the efforts, (but) I don't think there's any chance of survival.
"He left excited and happy. He died doing something he really loved."
Krall loved to fly as a hobby and would often make weekend trips to Molokai or Lanai to visit friends, Fujii-Krall said.
The bakery already had made gingerbread men for the Christmas season. Fujii-Krall gave some of those sweets to close, longtime customers as they came to grieve.
Maui Bake Shop & Deli was known for its glass case filled with pastries and for its salads, breads, sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.