Five dead in small commercial plane crash outside of Bethel

Bethel, Alaska — Five people are dead following a plane crash Thursday near the lower Kuskokwim community of Tuntutuliak, according to Alaska State Troopers.

At 1:42 p.m., troopers were alerted to an overdue Yute Commuter Service plane traveling from Bethel to Kipnuk carrying one pilot and four passengers. The plane was found at 1:50 p.m., troopers said. It crashed about 12 miles southwest of Tuntutuliak.

Related: Yute Commuter Service has named of pilot of plane that crashed, killing 5

An Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 helicopter dispatched from Bethel to the crash site carrying multiple guardsmen, a trooper and two medics with LifeMed, according to Candis Olmstead, Alaska Army National Guard director of public affairs. The responders confirmed all aboard deceased.

Troopers are working to notify the families of the deceased, and said the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the accident.

Tuntutuliak Tribal Administrator Deanna White said searchers from her community also headed to the crash site Thursday afternoon after hearing news of the crash. 

Around 3 p.m. Thursday, Yute Commuter Service posted to its Facebook page that all flights Friday are cancelled. When KYUK called the airline late Thursday afternoon, to confirm if one of its planes had crashed, the person who answered said, “We have no comment at this time,” and hung up.

Yute Commuter Service had two planes crash in 2019. One plane crashed in April near Bethel. The four people on board, including the pilot, walked away with no injuries. In November, a Yute pilot crashed in Goodnews Bay and escaped with no injuries. He was the only person on the plane.

Reporter Krysti Shallenberger contributed to this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Tuntutuliak Tribal Administrator Deanna White’s name as Diana White.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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