State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Pilot killed in floatplane crash near Dillingham

DILLINGHAM - One person died and two others were injured when a floatplane flipped after landing on a lake Tuesday afternoon in Wood-Tikchik State Park in Southwest Alaska, Alaska State Troopers said.

They were withholding the name of the pilot until relatives could be notified. Steven Leo and Wayne Lacy Sr. survived the crash with minor injuries, troopers said. Their ages and hometowns were unavailable.

The crash occurred about 4:15 p.m. as a Magnum Beaver owned by General Communications Inc. landed in Lake Nerka near the head of the Agulawok River, troopers reported.

The plane's landing gear apparently was extended through the floats, and the aircraft flipped onto its back, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

Rescuers who piled into several boats at nearby Woodriver Lodge were able to free the two survivors, troopers said. Troopers, a park ranger and a diver who was flown to the lake also helped in the search-and-rescue efforts.

The victim's body was scheduled to be taken to Anchorage for an autopsy, according to troopers.

Man convicted of killing ex-wife, her friend in December 1998

ANCHORAGE - It took a jury less than two hours Tuesday to decide that Mark Edwards was guilty of killing his ex-wife, Mona Edwards, and her roommate, Maela Crabtree. Jurors found Edwards guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

The two women were found dead on Dec. 19, 1998, at the home they shared. Both had been shot once in the head at close range, Crabtree at the front door and Edwards while asleep in a downstairs bedroom.

Mark Edwards, who was found lying next to Mona, also was shot in the head but alive. The shot left him blind and with brain damage. Defense attorneys had argued that he wasn't mentally fit to stand trial.

But Superior Court Judge Elaine Andrews ruled last summer that Edwards was competent to be tried. Sentencing is set for November. Edwards faces a maximum of 99 years in prison for each murder.

Cruise ship briefly loses propulsion near Juneau

JUNEAU - A cruise ship transiting Frederick Sound and headed for Juneau didn't have propulsion for a few minutes Monday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

A crew member on the Radiance of the Seas accidentally turned off one of the ship's hydraulic pumps for about three minutes instead of turning on a second one, Royal Caribbean Cruises spokesman Michael Sheehan said. The pump controls the rudder.

The loss of a steering pump caused the propulsion on the ship to shut down as an "automatic safety feature," said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Paitl with the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Juneau. The ship still had use of its bow thrusters, which control lateral movement, he said.

"The pump being turned off was discovered and corrected in about three minutes' time," he said. "We simply advised the Coast Guard of the situation and got the appropriate clearances to proceed. It was taken care of in rather short order."

The incident was reported to the Coast Guard at about 8 a.m. Monday. Coast Guard officials boarded the 902-foot vessel to investigate once it arrived in town, Paitl said.

"They were able to restart both steering pumps, port and starboard, and regained propulsion," he said. "We couldn't duplicate the malfunction. It may have been a simple matter of somebody pushing the wrong buttons."

The Coast Guard sent the ship's black box, which records some on-board activity, to Charleston, S.C., for analysis, he said. The Coast Guard also asked the ship to prepare a safety plan to avoid a similar incident, Paitl added. The investigation continues.

"They've had no problems since," he said. "We're waiting on what the results from the black box tell us."

Pair sentenced for stealing from Stony River tribal council

ANCHORAGE - The former president and secretary of the Stony River Traditional Council are being sent to federal prison for stealing $24,345 from the organization, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Former council leader Andrew Gusty Sr., 62, and former secretary Mary Macar, 52, were sentenced last week for the felony crime of theft from an Indian tribal organization.

Senior U.S. District Judge James. M. Fitzgerald sentenced them to five month in federal prison followed by five months of community confinement. They were ordered to pay back the full amount they stole when they closed a council bank account in June 2000, and have three years of supervised release after their confinement ends.

Macar pleaded guilty in April. Gusty went to trial and was convicted in May.

Stony River is a community of about 65 people on the Kuskokwim River 185 miles northeast of Bethel.

Interior school closed after one year due to lack of students

FAIRBANKS - A $1.7 million school built to serve the Interior community of Healy Lake has been closed after just one year of serving students.

Healy Lake, a community of 37, is about 30 miles east of Delta Junction. The school was built three years ago with a federal grant, but remained empty until last year, when the Delta Greely School Board decided to open it.

The board was hoping the new facility would attract enough students to fulfill the state requirement that every school educate at least 10 students. But by the end of the school year, just four students remained.

Mat-Su teachers reach tentative contract agreement

WASILLA - With less than a week to go before the start of school in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the district and teachers have reached a tentative agreement.

The bargaining team for the 900-member Mat-Su Education Association reached a one-year agreement, district spokeswoman Kim Floyd said. The teachers voted earlier this year to support a strike.

The district has offered teachers a 3 percent salary increase overall and a $1,614 longevity bonus for educators at the top of the pay scale. Teacher salaries would range from about $35,000 to $66,000 a year.

Interim schools Superintendent Bob Doyle described it as a good offer that gives something to teachers at all levels. He said he was disappointed that the proposed contract is for one year instead of three.

The contract still needs approval from the union membership and the Mat-Su School Board, Doyle said.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.

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