Senator Stevens And Four Passengers Die In Alaskan Plane Crash


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Senator Stevens And Four Passengers Die In Alaskan Plane Crash

By Jim Douglas

August 11, 2010 - The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday launched a Go Team to investigate Monday night's airplane crash near Dillingham, Alaska. Former Senator Ted Stevens, and former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and his son were onboard at the time of the crash. Stevens and O'Keefe and his son had taken the flight to go on a fishing trip.

At about 6:30 PM a 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3T (N455A) owned by GCI Communication Corporation of Anchorage Alaska crashed 10 miles northwest of Aleknagik, Alaska. Reports are that 5 of the 9 persons on board died in the accident. NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman has accompanied the Go Team and will serve as spokesperson for the on-scene investigation.


Around 7 PM an aircraft flying in the facility noticed a downed aircraft, the pilot contacted air traffic control of the downed aircraft. The National Guard was the called out. Weather conditions at the time were heavy rain showers with low clouds and poor visibility. Weather conditions hampered search and rescue efforts. On Tuesday about 7?30 AM Alaska?s Air National Guard was able to reach the crash site by helicopter, at which time they began providing medical support to the crash victims. O?Keefe suffered a broken pelvis and other bones, both he and his son survived the crash.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter is a single-engined, high wing, propeller-driven, STOL aircraft developed by de Havilland Canada. It was conceived to be capable of performing the same roles as the earlier and highly successful Beaver, but was overall a larger plane. Ronald Duncan, President, CEO and Founder, GCI Corporation, stated ?An aircraft owned by GCI went down north of Dillingham, Alaska. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the State Troopers, the Coast Guard, and other rescue units are responding to the crash, as is the National Transportation Safety Board.

?We are aware of news reports stating that four of the nine individuals on board the aircraft have survived. At this point, I cannot confirm or comment on these reports. We are waiting for authoritative reports from the rescue units. All of our energies are focused on working with the rescue units and mobilizing to support the families and friends of the individuals on the aircraft?. Stevens along with some of his former senate staff and their families had departed from Nerka Lake to the HRM Sports Camp along the Nushagak River for a fishing trip.


On December 4, 1978 Stevens was flying in a friend's Lear Jet 25C, N77RS, from Juneau to Anchorage Alaska. On its final approach just a few feet above the runway, the Lear Jet encountered a sudden gust of wind and crash onto the runway. Stevens survived the crash but five others onboard including the senator's wife, Anne died in the crash. Stevens had taken the flight to participate in a meeting that was to discuss a major public lands bill. The NTSB reported the probable cause (s) were pilot error and unfavorable wind conditions. Runway gust peaked to 31 knots and light ice accumulation. The pilot in command use of the brakes and or flight controls was used improperly. The pilot was age 45 with 7000 total hours. He had 650 in type and was instrument rated.

Theodore "Ted" Fulton Stevens is a former Republican United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009. Stevens is the longest-serving Republican senator in history. In December 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stevens had taken advantage of lax Senate rules to use his political influence to obtain a large amount of his personal wealth. According to the article, while Stevens was already a millionaire "thanks to investments with businessmen who received government contracts or other benefits with his help," the lawmaker who is in charge of $800 billion a year, writes "preferences he wrote into law," from which he then benefits.

On July 29, 2008 Stevens was indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of failing to properly report gifts a felony, and found guilty at trial three months later (October 27, 2008). The charges relate to renovations to his home and alleged gifts from VECO Corporation. The Justice Department had been investigating into whether federal funds that Stevens steered to the Alaska SeaLife Center may have enriched a former aide. 

Sean O'Keefe is the CEO of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European aerospace firm EADS since November. He is also a former Administrator of NASA under George W. Bush, leading the space agency from December 2001 to February 2005. His tenure was marked by a mix of triumph and tragedy, ranging from the tremendous success of the Mars Exploration Rovers to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. (See other related story Senator Stevens' Plane Crashed Into A Mountainside Without Warning)


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