When a Cessna 182 airplane disappeared near Juneau in 2008, a 10-day search over an area of 1,000 square miles yielded no results.
Nine years later, the plane was finally found, just a mile and a half from its last known location.
The plane carried 56-year-old Brian Andrews and his 24-year-old son Brandon Andrews. Brian was the deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Revenue at the time. The plane remained missing from Aug. 9, 2008 until this past Wednesday, when a hunter reported that he and friends found the wreckage and human remains inside.
On Saturday, representatives from the Alaska State Troopers, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), U.S. Forest Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and Juneau Mountain Rescue went to the site, located about a mile and a half away from Young Lake on Admiralty Island.
They were able to confirm that the wreckage belonged to the Andrews flight, and they removed the remains from the site. The state medical examiner will now inspect the remains to positively identify the remains. Troopers released a photograph of the site Monday morning, revealing what was left of the weather-beaten plane.
Brent Andrews, son of Brian and brother of Brandon, provided a statement in the form of a blog post Saturday night saying the discovery brought about “mixed emotions.” He said he first heard the news of the discovery from longtime friends in Juneau.
“It was a gift to hear the news first from a Juneau family that I absolutely have the highest esteem and love for,” Brent wrote, “and this has comforted my mom, sister and closest friends as well.”
According to the NTSB crash report filed in 2008, Brian and his two sons were on a camping trip on Admiralty Island when they realized they had too much camping gear to safely make it back to Juneau in one trip. They decided that the three of them would fly to Juneau and then two of them would return to the site to get the rest of their gear.
The plane departed the Juneau International Airport at 3:40 p.m., according to the report, and was expected back around 4:30 p.m. At 7:15 p.m., when the plane still wasn’t back, it was reported overdue.
For 10 days, the Coast Guard and other organizations searched the wide radius, but couldn’t spot anything. Alaska State Troopers Spokesperson Tim DeSpain said that even though the plane was found somewhat close to its takeoff spot of Young Lake, the dense forest and undergrowth made it tough to find it.
“The trees and the ground vegetation are incredibly thick there,” DeSpain said. “There was no way someone could have seen that from the air.”
Brent wrote the same in his blog post, saying that “we are fortunate to have found the plane at all.” Investigators found signs of a post-crash fire, which made it even more difficult to identify the plane. In all, it was an emotional week for the Andrews family, Brent wrote.
“I know that their disappearance was a very rare case,” Brent wrote Saturday, “and I’m glad that since 2008 there have been improvements in aircraft emergency signal requirements, photo reconnaissance, and other technologies, so that families in the future won’t have to conduct such searches for their loved ones.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com.