Nine killed, one injured in Dillingham plane crash

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2001

DILLINGHAM - Nine people were killed and one injured this morning when a PenAir plane crashed soon after taking off from the airport in Dillingham.

Alaska State Troopers said the plane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, was bound for King Salmon when it crashed almost immediately after taking off at 10 a.m.

The plane crashed into the tundra about two miles from the end of runway, said Richard Harding, vice president of operations for PenAir. He said the plane had a pilot and nine passengers on board. Five of the occupants were male and five were female.

Most of the passengers were from the King Salmon area. The plane also was scheduled to go on to Chignik.

"The crash was described to be high impact from low altitude," said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

The injured passenger, a woman, was in critical condition at Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham, said spokesman Ralph Andrew.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Harding said there were no calls indicating the plane was in trouble. And he said there was no evidence the plane exploded.

"There was no explosion, no fire," he said.

The plane had no previous reports of trouble and the plane was fairly new, Harding said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has classified the crash as a major event and will send investigators to the crash site from Anchorage and Washington, D.C. said Scott Erickson in the Anchorage office.

Temperatures were in the low to mid-30s, skies were clear and no wind was reported, Wilkinson said.

Names of the victims will not be released until next of kin is notified, Wilkinson said.

He said the NTSB gave troopers permission to begin removing bodies from the crash scene. Troopers will take thumbprints from the victims to confirm identities before notifying families.

"We need positive confirmation of identities," Wilkinson said.

Dillingham is about 330 miles southwest of Anchorage on Bristol Bay.

Troopers, Dillingham volunteer firefighters, Dillingham police, the Alaska National Guard, hospital personnel, the state Department of Transportation and search and rescue volunteers responded to the scene.

The Cessna 208 Caravan is a single-engine aircraft that can carry up to 14 people.

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