Stevens Dies in Plane Crash; Some Survivors Flown to Anchorage

Annie Feidt – APRN, Anchorage
Libby Casey – APRN, Washington DC
Lori Townsend – APRN, Anchorage

Former Senator Ted Stevens has been killed in a plane crash, according to a source close to the Stevens family.

Mitch Rose says Stevens, 86, died in the plane that went down near Aleknagik with nine people aboard last night about 8:00 p.m.

Four others did not survive the crash, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Three survivors were being flown to Anchorage, according to news reports citing the Alaska National Guard.

“Last night, Alaska lost a hero and I lost a dear friend,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in a statement.

“The thought of losing Ted Stevens, a man who was known to business and community leaders, Native chiefs and everyday Alaskans as ‘Uncle Ted,’ is too difficult to fathom.

His entire life was dedicated to public service—from his days as a pilot in World War II to his four decades of service in the United States Senate. He truly was the greatest of the ‘Greatest Generation.”

Senator Mark Begich called Ted Stevens “one of its greatest statesmen and a true pioneer of our state” in a statement released Tuesday morning.

“Over his four decades of public service in the U.S. Senate, Senator Stevens was a forceful advocate for Alaska who helped transform our state in the challenging years after Statehood” Begich, a Democrat, said upon hearing of Stevens’ death.

“Senator Stevens’ many contributions to Alaska are enormous and his legacy of fierce devotion to Alaska will be long-lasting.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane took off about 2:00 p.m. and was flying from Lake Nerka to another lodge. The single-engine float plane was registered to GCI in Anchorage. It was a De Havilland DHC-3T (N455A), according to the NTSB.

Pilot and former state lawmaker Rick Halford was flying a float plane in the area yesterday in the hours before Stevens’ plane crashed. He said the weather was poor and it did not appear to have improved during the course of the day.

He says at times, visibility was under a mile.

Stevens was a legendary figure in Alaska politics and government. He had served in the Senate longer than any other Republican.

In a statement released to the media early Tuesday morning, the Guard said:

“The Alaska Air National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard are currently on-scene of a plane crash that occurred 17-miles north of Dillingham Monday night.

An Alaska Air National Guard 210 Rescue Squadron, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter carrying 212 Rescue Squadron pararescuemen was able to land minutes ago (about 8:00 am.) and is currently providing medical support to the crash victims at the scene.

A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 is also providing support over head and will be available to take victims in need of serious medical support to Anchorage, once victims are transported to Dillingham.”

Also believed to be among the passengers is Sean O’Keefe, a former NASA administrator. His condition was not known.

Earlier Tuesday morning, the Stevens family had released a statement offering prayers to those on the flight and their families. “We thank the brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to work with the Alaska National Guard, the US Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers.”

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