SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Last Two Missing Passengers of Flights Found Tonight Bringing Fatalities to 6

Posted & Edited by MARY KAUFFMAN


May 14, 2019
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Search and rescue teams this evening recovered the remains of the final two passengers missing since yesterday’s fatal dual floatplane crash. A total of six people died after a Taquan Air Otter and Mountain Air Beaver collided in George Inlet Monday afternoon while conducting flightseeing tours. In total ten people were rescued and six people were found deceased.

According to information released tonight by the U.S. Coast Guard, the nationalities of the people from both planes are 14 Americans, one Canadian and one Australian.

According to information released by the Alaska State Troopers, the deceased individuals are identified as follows:

- Randy Sullivan, 46-year-old male, pilot, from Ketchikan, Alaska.

- Simon Bodie, 56-year-old male from Tempe, New South Wales, Australia.

- Cassandra Webb, 62-year-old female from Saint Louis, Missouri.

- Ryan Wilk, 39-year-old male, from Utah. 

- Louis Botha, 46-year-old female, from San Diego, California.

- Elsa Wilk, 37-year-old female, from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Next of kin notifications have been made. The Canadian and Australian Consulates have been notified of the incident.

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A team member of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad located the remaing two missing people near the crash site of the Mountain Air Beaver float plane, Tuesday night. According to KVRS, two USCG crew helped to collect the bodies, which were transferred to a USCG boat by a KVRS boat. An earlier USCG news release reported the bodies were found from the air by a USCG helicopter. That information was incorrect according to KVRS. (End of correction,)

Search and rescue crews Monday evening recovered the remains of a fourth individual involved in two fatal floatplane crashes south of Ketchikan. Four were confirmed deceased on Monday. There were numerous media reports of five confirmed deceased Monday; however, those reports were incorrect.

The search resumed at 6 a.m. this morning for two remaining passengers on a Mountain Air Beaver floatplane that crashed in the Mahoney Creek area of George Inlet. KVRS conducted dive operations at the site of the Mountain Air wreckage today. The debris field is 1,000-feet by 2,600-feet, of which 500 feet are on land.

Two floatplanes crashed at approximately the same time in George Inlet Monday within a mile and a half of one another. A Taquan Air Otter floatplane with 11 individuals crashed in the Coon Cove area of George Inlet. A Beaver floatplane operated by Mountain Air with five individuals crashed in the Mahoney Creek area. A total of 16 were on board the two planes. All passengers aboard the Taquan Air plane were accounted for Monday, according to Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad Incident Commander Jerry Kiffer.

At 12:47 PM Monday, the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a reported boat crash in George Inlet. Rescuers did not discover there were two planes down until approximately 20 minutes into the incident.

A team of 12 National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived in Ketchikan today to begin what the agency expects to be a five to seven-day onsite investigation. Speaking at a press conference at Ketchikan’s Ted Ferry Civic Center, NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy stated that the two floatplanes collided at approximately 3,300 feet at 12:21 p.m. on Monday.

The NTSB is asking witnesses or anyone with photographs or videos to contact them at


A total of 12 members of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad as well as a U.S. Coast Guard aircrew and boat crew scoured the Mahoney Creek area of George Inlet Tuesday.

Meanwhile, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Tuesday evening reported the 10 patients from this accident in the following conditions:

  • 3 patients remain in the hospital in fair condition
  • 3 patients were discharged throughout the day today.
  • 4 patients in total were medevacked to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle yesterday afternoon/evening.

Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Landis offered this statement for all involved: “Our community is heartbroken over this tragedy and its devastating impact on so many families. There has been a tremendous outpouring of compassion and support from everywhere in the community, and we offer sincere gratitude to all those who are responding to the crashes.” 

City Mayor Bob Sivertsen thanked the responders and also expressed his condolences.

“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the first responders and good Samaritans during this tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers go out those who have lost loved ones. We are mourning with you,” Sivertsen said.

The Coast Guard, partner agencies and good Samaritans conducted exhaustive search and rescue efforts following the incident involving a Mountain Air de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver float plane with five people onboard and Taquan de Havilland DHC-3 Otter float plane with 11 people onboard. 

Coast Guard assets involved in the search included the cutter Bailey Barco, two Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters, two Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Mediums and an Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules aircraft. 

The Coast Guard, partner agencies and good Samaritans conducted surface and air searches, operating around the clock for more than 27 hours, concentrated in an area of 93 square nautical miles. 

Numerous searches were conducted by good Samaritans, the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Ketchikan Fire Department, Alaska State Troopers and TEMSCO Aviation. The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad also deployed one search dog from their team, a Labrador named "Pace, and conducted multiple shoreline searches in the vicinity of the crash. 

“We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search efforts,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This is not the outcome we hoped for and extend our deepest sympathies during this very difficult time.”

The Coast Guard began search efforts after Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watch standers received notification of the crash at approximately 12:27 p.m., Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash. The Alaska State Troopers will complete the death investigation. 



Two planes down south of Ketchikan; Four Deceased, Two Still Missing; Reports to USCG Confirms Mid-Air Collision
SitNews - May 13, 2019


Source of News:

Ketchikan Borough


Alaska State Troopers


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