Emergency Call from Wrecked Pilot Believed to Be From Sat Phone

Seth Fairbanks. (Facebook photo)
Seth Fairbanks. (Facebook photo)

Alaska State Troopers say they believe pilot Seth Fairbanks made an emergency call with a Satellite phone when his Supercub crashed into Cook Inlet around midnight August 6. They also say their investigation reveals he called the non-emergency number for the Alaska State Trooper Post in Bethel, not 9-1-1.

As of July 1st, after-hour phone calls in the Bethel region are automatically routed to the Alaska State Trooper dispatch center in Fairbanks. Fairbanks dispatch center received the call and it lasted approximately 69 seconds before the call dropped off, say troopers.

No other calls were made from the satellite phone, according to Troopers. There was no caller identification or number for a call back.

A minute after the initial call, the Fairbanks trooper dispatch contacted a Wasilla Police Department dispatch center. They called troopers and tried to confirm some information. Seven minutes after the call, at two minutes past midnight, they called the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) who rerouted C-17 aircraft. RCC also contacted a helicopter crew to prepare for a flight, which launched at approximately 1:18 a.m.

Troopers launched an investigation into the initial call after receiving scrutiny about the timeline of the call and response.

Twenty-nine-year-old Fairbanks, and 23-year-old Anthony Hooper, both of McGrath, are still missing and presumed dead. The two men were on their way to a wedding reception in Anchorage from McGrath.

A service for Fairbanks is set for Bethel today [Friday 8/14].

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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