Investigators: Cause of plane crash unknown

This image provided Saturday Nov. 30, 2013, courtesy of Alaska State Troopers shows the wreckage of a plane that crashed Friday near St. Marys, Alaska. Authorities said the pilot and three passengers died in this crash of the single-engine turboprop Cessna 208. Few other details, including the possible cause of the crash, are known. (AP Photo/Alaska State Troopers()

ANCHORAGE — Federal responders said Monday it was too early to know what caused a commuter plane to crash in remote southwest Alaska, killing four people and injuring another six on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash Friday of the Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 turboprop a mile southeast of the village of Saint Marys.

“We’re still very much in the very formative stages of the investigation,” said Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB’s Alaska regional office. Investigators interviewed one of the survivors on Sunday and were hoping to interview two more on Monday, Johnson said.

Pilot Terry Hansen, 68, of Bethel and passengers Rose Polty, 57, Richard Polty, 65, and a 5-month-old infant, Wyatt Coffee, died in the crash. The baby’s 25-year-old mother, Melanie Coffee, made a frantic call for help resuscitating her fatally injured child then walked nearly a mile to lead searchers hampered by cold and fog to the crash site.

National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Albanese said an observation station at Saint Marys showed visibility at three miles and a 300-foot ceiling around the time of the crash.

Along with Melanie Coffee, who sustained chest trauma, the other survivors are Pauline Johnson, 37, Kylan Johnson, 14, Tanya Lawrence, 35, Garrett Moses, 30, and Shannon Lawrence, authorities said.

Five of the survivors were listed in fair condition Monday at Anchorage hospitals. Kylan Johnson was treated and released from Providence Alaska Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Ginger Houghton said.

All of the passengers were from Mountain Village.

Investigators with the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration arrived Sunday at the wreckage site, 470 miles west of Anchorage. Clint Johnson said the goal is to document the wreckage before moving the plane to Anchorage or Bethel.

The Cessna left Bethel at 5:40 p.m. Friday on a scheduled flight to Mountain Village and eventually Saint Marys. It never made it to Mountain Village.

Saint Marys, like scores of other Alaska villages, is off the state road system. People routinely use small aircraft to reach regional hubs where they can catch another plane to complete trips to Anchorage or other cities.

Hageland Aviation is part of the Era Group that includes Era Aviation.

Era spokesman Steve Smith said the company is providing air and ground transportation to families of survivors so they can be with them in Anchorage. The company also is working on funeral arrangements.

More

Anchorage police arrest suspect in train monument vandalism

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police acting on a tip have arrested a teenager suspected of painting graffiti on a train locomotive that stands as a monument... Read more

Renovations planned for UAS Ketchikan maritime facilities

KETCHIKAN — Construction is expected to start later this year on a nearly $6 million overhaul of University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan’s Regional Maritime and... Read more

Walker: Up to 45,000 Alaskans could lose coverage with GOP bill

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker says as many as 45,000 Alaskans could lose health care coverage under a Republican bill proposed in the U.S. House.... Read more

Around the Web

 

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING