Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 17, 2004

Floatplane crashes in Cook Inlet

ANCHORAGE - A floatplane crashed offshore near Anchorage on Friday, but heavy fog hampered efforts to find any survivors, authorities said.

Rescue crews with the Alaska Air National Guard flew over the area in an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter Friday afternoon but failed to spot anyone. The crew returned to Kulis Air National Guard Base and was waiting for the weather to clear, Sgt. Ken Denny said.

The Rescue Coordination Center called off the search at nightfall, said Maj. Mike Haller. One person was believed on board and not expected to have survived.

Alaska State Troopers then took over the case, which is now a recovery effort, spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

The Rescue Coordination Center notified the Guard at 2:30 p.m. that a plane went down in Cook Inlet about a half mile offshore from the city's Earthquake Park, said Kalei Brooks, a Guard spokeswoman.

Brooks said the Super Cub was one of two planes that took off together from Lake Hood, the city's floatplane port.

When the Super Cub crashed into the inlet, the other plane turned around and landed nearby, then notified authorities. The downed plane is submerged in the water.

Speaker to address Middle East crisis

JUNEAU - Juneau People for Peace and Justice guest Dr. J Edward Wright will talk about the Middle East crisis at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Northern Light United Church.

Juneau People for Peace and Justice is sponsoring the event.

The title of Wright's speech is "Apocalypse Then & Now: Religious Tensions in the Middle East Conflict."

Wright is director and professor of Judaic studies at the University of Arizona.

For more information, call Amy Paige at 586-4409.

Interior Secretary signs pipeline pact

ANCHORAGE - Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed a renewed agreement Friday that officials say will increase oil pipeline employment opportunities for Alaska Natives.

The renewal of the Alaska Native Utilization agreement was signed in Anchorage during Norton's visit to Alaska. Also on hand were Native leaders and representatives of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., an oil company consortium that operates and maintains the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

The renewal, the fourth since 1995, will ensure continued employment and better training programs for nearly 240 Alaska Natives working on the 800-mile line, Norton said.

As part of Friday's agreement, Alyeska will fund programs aiming to employ, train and advance Alaska Native pipeline workers. Another goal is to continue efforts to recruit and retain Native employees, officials said.

Jury convicts man of attempted murder

KENAI - A Kenai man accused in the severe beating of a woman was found guilty Friday of first-degree attempted murder, sexual assault and other charges.

Justin Starkweather, 23, was charged in the 2002 attack on Mary Perna that left the 46-year-old woman lying in a pool of blood with nearly every bone in her face broken. A Kenai jury found him guilty of all counts, including charges of assault, burglary and theft.

Courtney Starkweather, the defendant's mother, trembled visibly as the verdicts were read and collapsed in tears at the end of Friday's proceedings.

Superior Court Judge Charles Cranston set sentencing for Feb. 7, 2005. Starkweather faces a maximum sentence of 159 years in prison.



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