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Victims of Sitka plane crash identified

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Four people who died when a single-engine airplane crashed into an empty home in the coastal community of Sitka were identified by police late Tuesday, while the investigation into the crash's cause got under way.

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Killed were Robert Hendrickson, 45 and his daughters Julianne, 14, and Emily, 9, said Sitka Police Lt. Barry Allen. Also killed in the crash was Hendrickson's fiancee, Linda Kundair, 34. All were living in different New Jersey towns, Allen said.

Their families have been notified, he said.

The group left New Jersey last Friday, Allen said, and may have made a few stops in the U.S. and Canada on their flight to Sitka.

Their bodies were in Sitka police custody Tuesday evening, Allen said, though it was unclear whether they would undergo an autopsy.

"We actually will be turning them over as quickly as possible, but we do have a bit more work to do," he said.

Allen said it was too early to have any indication of why the plane crashed.

The investigation was turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which dispatched personnel to the site immediately after the crash.

Jim La Belle, the NTSB's regional director for Alaska, said the single-engine Piper departed Victoria, British Columbia, Monday morning and was heading to the Sitka airport when it went down.

Witnesses told investigators the plane was circling the area twice before "making a fairly steep descent out of the clouds," La Belle said.

It was about 1 p.m., when the plane emerged from a low-lying clouds just outside the Sitka's downtown, clipped some trees and plunged into a single-family home, witnesses and police said.

There were no injuries to anyone on the ground.



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