U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband was flying moose meat from a remote hunting camp Tuesday night when his plane crashed, Alaska State Troopers say. Eugene “Buzzy” Peltola Jr., 57, died after the wreck.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators flew by helicopter Friday from Nome to the mountainous site of the plane crash, about 65 miles northeast of the Western Alaska village of St. Mary’s.
“The team plans to document the wreckage and collect evidence, including devices that may contain important information about the flight,” NTSB officials said in a Friday statement. “The wreckage will then be removed, by helicopter, to an offsite facility for further analysis.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Peltola was the pilot and sole occupant of the Piper Super Cub. Investigators originally said Peltola had dropped off a hunter at the remote camp before the crash. On Thursday, Alaska State Troopers clarified that Peltola was actually flying the second of two loads of meat from the site.
The crash was first reported around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Two hunters at the scene pulled Peltola from the wrecked plane and provided medical care, said troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel. Peltola was “conscious and responsive” at the time, he said.
The hunters remained in touch with emergency responders using an InReach satellite communication device, McDaniel said. About two hours after the crash, they sent a message saying they could no longer detect Peltola’s vital signs, reported the Anchorage Daily News. An Alaska Air National Guard rescue helicopter sent from Anchorage arrived at about 1:50 a.m. Wednesday and its crew confirmed his death.
Peltola’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy, according to McDaniel. A report on its results is still pending.
The NTSB’s team, sent from Washington D.C. to Alaska on Wednesday, includes staff from airframe maker Piper and engine manufacturer Lycoming.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the time that the Alaska Air National Guard rescue helicopter arrived at the crash site. It arrived at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday, not 1:15 a.m.