Alaska News Nightly: August 11, 2010

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Flags at Half-Staff for Former-Senator Ted Stevens
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The flags flying over the US Capitol are at half-staff today in honor of former Senator Ted Stevens. They will remain that way until his internment. The decision was made by Congressional leaders.

One of the Alaska National Guardmen who responded to the plane crash that killed Stevens and four others described the rescue today. Senior Master Sergeant Jonathan Davis was one of two pararescue airmen who were dropped at the scene early yesterday morning. Their helicopter couldn’t land at the site, so they were hoisted down to the ground. Davis says one of the survivors was outside the plane, but the other three were still inside the wreckage.

The four medical professionals who reached the site Monday evening helped the survivors make it through the long cold night. Davis says they kept the victims warm with blankets, but didn’t have any medical supplies. They were able to bring some supplies in on the helicopter, but then had to hike a long way to reach the crash site. They couldn’t carry the heavy load of supplies over the alder and scree covered hillside in bad weather.

Davis says the survivors suffered from spine injuries, one had a compound lower leg fracture, one had a possible fractured pelvis and another had an ankle injury. He says the young teenager who was sitting in the front seat was the only survivor who was outside the plane.

Davis says the survivors were sitting throughout the plane, from the front to the very rear of the aircraft. He says the most difficult part of the rescue was getting them on spine boards and out of the fuselage.

The four survivors were flown yesterday to Providence hospital in Anchorage. The hospital lists former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe in critical condition. His son, Kevin O’Keefe is in serious condition along with Jim Morhard. A fourth survivor, teenager William Phillips Junior is not in the Providence patient database, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t at the hospital. Patients can opt out of the system.

NTSB Gives Updates About Crash
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage and  Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The NTSB updated reporters late this afternoon on the crash that killed former-Senator Ted Stevens and four other people. KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer was there and joins us now.

Those Stranded on Knik Glacier are Rescued
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
All of the sightseers and rescuers stuck on the Knik glacier have been flown to safety. This afternoon, a National Guard Pavehawk helicopter was finally able to land on the glacier and began ferrying people to the valley below. A group of tourists had been stuck on the glacier since their small plane crashed there Sunday.  Three were rescued yesterday and two more today. National Guard Spokesman Major Guy Hayes says they were in good shape despite spending several days on the glacier, partly because a four-man rescue squad was able to ski in Monday with provisions.

The rescue took a dramatic turn yesterday when an Alaska Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter landed on the glacier, but then rolled over and slid. That stranded seven guardsmen at the crash site who had been part of the rescue effort. Hayes says the helicopter is still on the glacier.

Hayes says the tragic events of the last few days are a reminder of the professionalism of the Alaska Air National Guardsmen. He says they’ve saved more than 40 lives this year.

Dana Tindall Helped Shape Alaska’s Communication Landscape
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Among the victims of Monday’s plane crash were Dana Tindall, 48, and her 16-year-old daughter Corey Tindall.  Dana Tindall was a senior vice president at GCI and had been with the company for 24 years. GCI’s Ron Duncan, says Tindall and her daughter were a big part of the GCI family and that the company is devastated by the news of their passing.

In Juneau, GCI lobbyist Reed Stoops says Tindall helped shape today’s communications landscape in Alaska.

And Stoops says Tindall helped GCI expand its services.

Dana Tindall served in her current role since 1993, and has served as an adjunct professor of regulatory economics at Alaska Pacific University. Stoops says that she worked well with other people. Dana leaves behind a husband, Virgil Peachey, and a son, Connor Tindall.

Stevens Helped Build Fishing Industry
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
The late Senator Ted Stevens was renowned for his work on fisheries. During his 40 years in the Senate, Stevens worked on countless pieces of legislation that shaped and re-shaped the fishing industry in Alaska and the United States. Perhaps the most famous is named after him.

Alaskans React to Stevens’ Death
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Reaction to Senator Stevens’ death continued to pour in from across the state today.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Political Science Professor Gerry McBeath says Ted Stevens did more than any other politician to ensure the federal government treated Alaska fairly. Stevens had an abrasive manner, but McBeath says the former Senator employed a range of political skills, including great institutional knowledge, to work the system.

Stepehn Haycox, University of Alaska history professor, sees Stevens’ passing as both an historical and personal event.  Haycox says for Alaskans, Stevens was much more than a national figure. He was “our history.” At least since the 1950s.

Myron Naneng is the President of the Association of Village Council Presidents, which represents 56 tribes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. He’s been on many trips to Washington D.C. and says Stevens always had time for locals.

Stevens helped fund all kinds of health services in the YK Delta, including the state’s only inhalant abuse treatment center, located in Bethel, and telemedicine services. Gene Peltola, long-time CEO of the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, says Steven’s Denali Commission made it all possible.

Juneau Representative Beth Kerttula calls Stevens one of Alaska’s early statesmen, who helped build the state from “literally nothing.”

Kerttula’s father, Jay, a Democrat from Palmer, and Stevens served together in the Alaska House of Representatives in the 1960s and their families were close friends. She recalls the chess game between her father and Stevens that sometimes took place on the House floor.

Jay Kerttula remembers those games well.

The elder Kerttula says the two legislators were often of the same mind on the issues facing the young state.

High School Students Learn How to Achieve Business Success
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
About 50 high-schoolers from around the state began a weeklong training session Monday at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks that will help them learn how to succeed in business. Alaska Business week is put together by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, modeled after a successful program in Washington State.  As KUAC’s Tim Ellis reports, Alaska business people are sharing their experience with young entrepreneurs.

WWII Soldier Revisits Kruzof Island
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
During World War II, the southern tip of Kruzof Island- near Sitka- was an observation post for the U.S. Navy.  A 26-year-old sailor named Bob Vollmer was among those stationed there. He’s now 93-years-old and living just south of Indianapolis, Indiana.  He returned to Sitka this summer, and KCAW’s Ed Ronco was there as Vollmer set foot on Kruzof for the first time in 67 years.

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