SKAGWAY - A private Cessna airplane on a flight from Juneau crashed Wednesday on a foggy mountainside in the White Pass, 12 miles north of Skagway, killing both people aboard.
The plane settled on a ledge 500 feet above the Klondike Highway at an altitude of approximately 3,500 feet.
"We were having lunch in the truck on the road, and Thor (Henricksen) saw him clip the mountain with his wing tip, and we all got out of the truck and heard him crash with a big thud," said Keith Knorr, foreman of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' road crew in Skagway. "Ray (Hosford) and I drove to the top of the hill and saw him. Thor went to get emergency rigs up here. "
Knorr said visibility was about 100 feet in the fog.
"We knew he wouldn't clear this in the soup," Knorr said.
Hosford and Henricksen climbed to the crash site to see if they could stabilize the pair. It took the men 20 minutes to climb the steep moraine, Knorr said.
When Skagway Search and Rescue personnel reached the scene 24 minutes later, the fog continued to lift and descend, and a heavy rain began to fall.
Skagway Police Chief Dennis Spurrier confirmed the couple did not survive the crash. He said the Cessna 172 was registered in Kansas. The victims were on a flight plan from Juneau to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The names of the dead were not released because relatives had not been notified.
Spurrier said the plane left Juneau at 10:32 a.m. and the Police Department received the 911 call at 11:09 a.m.
The pilot would have checked the weather conditions with the flight service center or the Federal Aviation Authority in Juneau, Spurrier said. DOT/PF takes a daily reading of the weather on the pass, but only once in the morning, he said.