Floatplane Crash in Metlakatla Harbor Claims Two Lives
Deceased Identified By Metlakatla Police Chief
May 20, 2019
The circumstances of the crash are not being released at this time. The names of the deceased were not released until next of kin were notified. The deceased were identified on Tuesday, May 21st by Metlakatla Police Chief Bruce R. Janes as pilot Ron Rash age 51 from Harrisburg, Pensylvania and passenter Sarah Luna age 31 of Anchorage, Alaska. (See Update)
Fifteen members of the Metlakatla Volunteer Fire Department responded to the crash. A seine boat was first on scene.
Two medics were dispatched on board two Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boats. Air Station Sitka dispatched one Jayhawk Helicopter, which has since been rescinded to Sitka.
The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad dispatched a 26-foot rescue boat at 4:56 p.m. with eight volunteers.
Both individuals were brought to the Annette Island Service Unit.
Good Samaritans were reported to have the aircraft in tow and were bringing the Beaver to the beach until it can be secured.
Karl S. Cook, Mayor of Metlakatla Indian Community, in a prepared statement dated May 21, 2019, offered their sympathies to the staff of Taquan Air. Cook wrote, "The losses this organization has faced in the past week have been devastating. We stand with Taquan Air, in appreciation of all this company does for South East Alaska in general, and Metlakatla in particular."
Cook wrote, " Our prayers for comfort, healing, and support, go out to everyone involved.
"I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation, on behalf of Metlakatla and all our community, to those who responded to the Taquan Air accident on Monday, May 20. We particularly thank the Metlakatla Volunteer Fire Department, the Metlakatla Police Department, and the many local residents who went out in their boats to assist the rescue and recovery efforts," wrote Mayor Cook.
"We are also grateful for the support of the US Coast Guard, who sent a crew from Sitka, and the Guardian Flight crew who came to offer assistance in case a medevac was needed," wrote Mayor Cook. "We appreciate the providers and staff of Annette Island Service Unit, who did all that was possible to resuscitate the victims of this terrible accident."
The Metlakatla Police Chief Bruce R. Janes also released a public statement Tuesday, May 21st saying the Metlakatla Police Department was advised of a possible downed floatplane in the area of Port Chester near Metlakatla.
In the statement, Police Chief Janes identified fatalities as the pilot Ron Rash age 51 of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the single passenger as Sarah Luna age 31 of Anchorage, Alaska. The families were notified prior to the release of the names.
According to Chief Janes, Metlakatla Police arrived on scene and immediately dispatched the Metlakatla Volunteer Fire Department Search and Rescue team, Emergency Medial Service crew and the Metlakatla Fish & Wildlife vessel to the scene. Officers reported there were good Samaritan on-scene and the plane was upside down in the water with an unknown number of occupants onboard.
MVFD Medivac Response vessel "Triton" arrived on scene at 4:05 PM. F?V Lady Live, a 58 foot commercial seiner, had secured the plane along side and four good Samaritans were in the water trying to free the occupants. The Triton dropped off 6 MVFD volunteers to assist and later learned there were two individuals inside the aircraft.
Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad and the United States Coast Guard assets were dispatched immediately to assist.
According to Chief Janes, at approximately 4:15 PM responders freed the first passenger and EMS transferred the unresponsive patient to Annette Island Service Unit.
During that time the larger response vessel manage to manipulate the plane into position to free the pilot. EMS then transferred the unresponsive individual to Annette Island Service Unit.
The plane was then towed into shallow waters near Village Point where many community members assisted in securing the plane and made it available to investigators.
The investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is ongoing.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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