Pilot dead after plane hits cable, crashes into river near Chickaloon

(Creative Commons photo by Matt’ Johnson)
(Creative Commons photo by Matt Johnson)

A Palmer man died Thursday after Alaska State Troopers say his small plane struck a cable and crashed into the Matanuska River near Chickaloon.

Troopers first heard of the crash, near Mile 77 of the Glenn Highway, just before 1 p.m. according to an online dispatch. The Mat-Su Borough dive rescue team and a towing company responded, and removed the plane from the river.

The deceased pilot, identified by troopers Friday as 46-year-old Joshua Seagrave, was the only person aboard the crashed plane. His body was turned over to a funeral home.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska chief, said Friday that Seagrave’s downed Piper PA-18 was part of a two-plane personal sightseeing flight from Palmer’s Wolf Lake airport. The planes were returning to Wolf Lake at the time of the crash.

“The witness pilot indicated that the accident pilot ended up descending down on to, over the top of the Matanuska River  — a couple hundred feet is how it was explained  — and unfortunately collided with the cable that was strung across the river,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the cable appeared to be from a tram across the river. Investigators didn’t immediately know how high above the river the cable had been suspended.

Investigators visited the scene Thursday, Johnson said. The NTSB is considering other factors in the crash, but weather conditions weren’t immediately an issue.

“With witnesses that were in the area, weather doesn’t appear to be a factor in this case, but we always look at everything,” Johnson said.

The NTSB’s preliminary report on the crash should be released in about a week, according to Johnson.

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