ANCHORAGE - A sightseeing plane crashed in the mountains of Misty Fjords National Monument, killing the pilot, and two sisters and their husbands on a side trip from an Alaska cruise, state troopers said Wednesday.
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Authorities were at the heavily forested site Wednesday to remove the five bodies, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
The single-engine floatplane, a de Havilland Beaver, had left Ketchikan shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday for a tour over Misty Fjords.
Pilot Joseph H. Campbell, 56, of Ketchikan, was flying the plane with cruise passengers Paul J. McManus, 60, and Marianne M. McManus, 56, of Leicester, Mass.; and William F. Eddy and Jeanne J. Eddy, both 59, who had homes in Jacksonville, Fla., and Baltimore, Alaska State Troopers said.
Marianne McManus and Jeanne Eddy were sisters, Leicester Police Chief James Hurley said.
A dispatcher for Taquan Air, the Ketchikan-based flight operator, reported the plane missing, said Len Laurance, a Taquan spokesman.
Searchers spotted the wreckage in the area where an aircraft distress signal had been picked up, near the south arm of Rudyerd Bay about 35 miles northeast of Ketchikan. The plane crashed at the 2,400-foot elevation of a steep slope, shearing off the tops of trees and breaking apart, the fuselage sliding lower than the wings, Laurance said.
The families of the couples said in a statement they were "shocked and numb at the news of this devastating tragedy."
The four passengers had been traveling on the Sun Princess, a Princess Cruises ship that was on the second day of a seven-day trip from Seattle. The vessel left Ketchikan two hours after its scheduled departure of 4:30 p.m.
The cruise ship company, a division of Carnival Corp., has cut off Taquan Air tours at this time, Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson said in a statement. Princess, based in Santa Clarita, Calif., also notified the families of the passengers.