Weather Prevents Recovery of Bodies from Plane Crash

Poor weather continues to prevent efforts to recover the bodies from a single-engine plane that crashed Sunday on Douglas Island in Juneau.

A Temsco helicopter with State Troopers on board tried again Wednesday to access the steep site at about the 31-hundred foot level of Mount Ben Stewart, near Eaglecrest Ski Area.

It was the fourth attempt in three days.  Troopers say the cloud ceiling was still about 500 feet lower than they need to recover the bodies.

They will try again Thursday, if the weather improves.

Seventy-seven-year-old Charles Luck and his wife, 51-year-old Liping Tang-Luck, were flying from Hoonah to Juneau early Sunday morning when their single-engine plane crashed.  Their bodies were found Monday in the wrecked fuselage.

Lows clouds, fog and rain enveloped the treacherous terrain, making it difficult for the team of mountaineers and investigators to reach the site.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson says the Cessna 182 is in a dangerous spot. He says recovery will be very challenging.

After troopers recover the bodies, NTSB crew will haul the debris off the mountain and begin reconstructing the plane in a Juneau aircraft hangar for the investigation.  Johnson says they strive to get 100 percent of the airplane off the mountain.

He says investigators are listening to Air Traffic Control tapes and conducting interviews.  Luck had contacted the Juneau airport tower about ten miles out, and was not heard from again.

Johnson says small aircraft like Luck’s Cessna do not have a flight data recorder.

Charles Luck was a physician’s assistant in Hoonah.

He just started working in June at the Hoonah Health Clinic, run by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

Medicine was a second career for Luck, who previously had been an electrical engineer.  He had 11-years’ experience in rural Alaska health care, having worked in Barrow, Adak and Kotzebue, as well as the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage before joining SEARHC.

Clinic physician assistant Jeff Chelmo said in an email it was obvious Luck and Hoonah were a good fit, though he had been at the clinic less than two months.

According to SEARHC, Luck had a commercial pilot’s license and an instrument rating.

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Rosemarie Alexander is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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