Alaska floatplane crash

UPDATE 5-15-19 2:17AM

Alaska State Troopers have released the names of those killed in Monday's collision between two float planes in Ketchikan.

VIictim's name:

46-year-old Randy Sullivan Ketchikan, Alaska

Simon Bodie, a 56-year-old male from New South Wales, Australia.

Cassandra Webb, a 62-year-old female from St. Louis, Missouri.

Ryan Wilk, a 39-year-old male from Utah.

Elsa Wilk, a 37-year-old female from British Columbia, Canada.

Louis Botha, a 46-year-old female from San Diego, California.

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UPDATE 5-15-19

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The bodies of two more people have been found after small sightseeing planes crashed in Alaska, the Coast Guard says.

Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dykens said six people have died in the collision Monday afternoon near Ketchikan, a popular destination for cruise ships in Alaska. Dykens said his agency and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad found the two bodies near the crash site of the smaller plane involved in the collision, a single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.

Ten people, all Americans, were injured, with three of them released from a hospital Tuesday. The missing passengers were from Canada and Australia, Princess Cruises said.

The Royal Princess, which can carry up to 3,600 people, was among four city-sized cruise ships in the tiny coastal community on Monday.

During port stops, visitors can shop in tourist stores or take part in several excursions, such as visiting an Alaska Native village, tour the backcountry, or visit a raptor center.

Another popular trip is flightseeing in Misty Fjords National Monument. Visitors marvel at the lakes, snowcapped peaks and glacier valleys in the wilderness area. Trips cost about $260 each.

The larger plane, a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 with 10 passengers and the pilot, was returning from Misty Fjords when it collided with a smaller sightseeing plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver carrying four passengers from the same cruise ship and a pilot.

The cause of the crash in relatively good weather, high overcast skies with light southeast winds was not known. The crash occurred about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from Ketchikan, near George Inlet. The planes came down about a mile and a half apart with some of the debris field on land.

The Otter, operated by Taquan Air, was initially traveling at an altitude of about 3,800 feet (1,158 meters), according to Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, whose investigators arrived in Ketchikan Tuesday afternoon. He said the Otter had descended to an altitude of around 3,300 feet (over 1,000 meters) when it collided with the Beaver as both headed to Ketchikan.

The smaller plane was partially submerged in the shore of George Inlet after the single-engine plane overturned and hit some trees before crashing, according to Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dykens. The larger Otter landed in water and sank, he said.

Three of the four who died were among the five people aboard the Beaver, according to Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dykens. Princess Cruises in its release said two passengers and the pilot were among those killed in this plane.

Canadian officials said Tuesday that one of its citizens was among the dead. Global Affairs Canada expressed condolences but did not identify the person because of privacy reasons.

The smaller plane, which operated independently and not as an official excursion flight booked through the cruise ship, was owned by Mountain Air Service of Ketchikan, which didn't immediately return a call Tuesday.

The Beaver appears to have broken apart in midair, according to Jerry Kiffer, duty incident commander of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. He said the plane's tail and section of the fuselage were 900 feet (275 meters) from the aircraft's floats, which landed near shore.

After the crash, the 10 injured people were initially taken to a hospital in Ketchikan. Four patients were later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, suffering various broken bones, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

Three survivors were released from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center in Ketchikan on Tuesday. Hospital spokeswoman Marty West says the remaining three are in fair condition.

Last summer, all 11 on board another Taquan Air flight survived when the 72-year-old pilot confused snow on a mountain with a body of water and crashed on a rocky mountainside on Prince of Wales Island near the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

A pilot and eight cruise ship passengers died June 25, 2015, when a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter operated by Promech Air Inc. crashed into mountainous terrain about 24 miles (38 kilometers) from Ketchikan, also as it was returning from Misty Fjords.

The NTSB later determined that pilot error, the company's culture and lack of a formal safety program were among the causes of that crash. Taquan Air purchased the assets of Promech a year after the crash, and currently employs three pilots who worked for Promech, a company spokeswoman said.

The Royal Princess left Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 11 and was scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday.

"We are extending our full support to the investigating authorities as well as the traveling companions of the guests involved," the company said in a statement.

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Associated Press journalists Martha Bellisle in Seattle, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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ORIGIANL

KETCHIKAN, AK - Five people are dead and one person is unaccounted for after two floatplanes carrying passengers from a cruise excursion collided mid-air in Alaska, according to the cruise line.

The two planes carried 14 passengers from the Royal Princess who were on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Vancouver, according to a statement Monday from Princess Cruises. The planes collided mid-air about 1 p.m. about eight nautical miles from Ketchikan, Alaska, at the southeastern end of the state.

"We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the planes and their families," the cruise company said. "Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved."

An Otter floatplane with 11 people onboard was returning from a Misty Fjords tour while a second Beaver floatplane carrying five people was on an independent tour.

Four cruise goers and one pilot were killed, Princess Cruises confirmed Monday.

The U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement that three people were confirmed dead. The Coast Guard statement said that it, partner agencies and good Samaritans were looking for three people in the vicinity of George Inlet near Ketchikan.

The Coast Guard dispatched helicopters and boats for search-and-rescue operations. The U.S. Forest Service and Alaska State Troopers also responded to the scene.

Ten people involved in the crash were rescued by a passing ship, the Saint Innocent. Three of those rescued were in serious condition and one was critical, a local hospital told NBC News. The others were in fair condition.

Taquan Air, the company which operated the De Havilland Otter plane, said in a statement that it has suspended all flights.

"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families," Taquan Air said. "At this time, we are in the midst of an active crisis response, and our focus is on assisting these passengers, the pilot, our staff, their families and loved ones, and first responders."

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday it is launching a "go team" to investigate the collision.

 

This is not the first crash the airline has been involved with. In July 2018, eleven people were rescued after a Taquan Air-operated plane crashed into mountainous terrain on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.

In 2015, a sightseeing plane operated by the company crashed and killed eight cruise ship passengers.

The Associated Press reported in 2007 that the pilot of a Taquan Air floatplane and four sightseers were killed in a crash over the mountains of Misty Fiords near Ketchikan.

"In a remote area such as this, given our limited resources, we rely on our partner agencies and appreciate the support that good Samaritans have rendered to this point," Capt. Stephen White, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander, said in Monday night’s statement. "With the loss of life in this case, we know that the impact to Alaska is immense and our thoughts are with the community here."

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