Crash Victims Recovered & Identified
By MARY KAUFFMAN
June 26, 2015
The tentative identifications were based on information that the Alaska State Troopers have gathered from Holland America, the plane manifest, and photo comparisons available to law enforcement. Next of kin notifications, based on the tentative identifications, have been completed. Positive identifications will still have to be made by the Alaska State Medical Examiner's Office.
The Alaska State Troopers, with assistance from the United States Coast Guard and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, were reportedly successful today in body recovery efforts for the nine deceased people in the float-equipped DeHavilland DHC-3T (Turbine Otter) airplane that crashed Thursday in an area of steep, mountainous terrain about 25 miles northeast of Ketchikan.
Quoting today's AST's news release, as body recovery efforts were happening, Troopers were tentatively identifying the victims through information gathered from Holland America, information from the air carrier and photos available to law enforcement.
A Federal Aviation Administration weather camera shows heavily overcast and gray conditions Thursday afternoon in the Misty Fjords region of Alaska's Ketchikan Borough.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a go-team from its Alaska Regional office to investigate a sightseeing plane that crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska. NTSB investigator Brice Banning is leading the team as investigator-in-charge.
Thursday evening at approximately 6:00 PM, search and rescue personnel were able to reach the crash site and confirm that all 9 people on board were deceased. The Alaska State Troopers, said yesterday that due to inclement weather, the body recovery effort would not be attempted until Friday.
Alaska State Troopers in Ketchikan received the report of the overdue aircraft at approximately 2:06 PM Thursday. The report was confirmed by a Temsco helicopter pilot who stated he had observed the downed aircraft approximately 800 feet above Ella Lake in the Misty Fjords area against a granite rock face.
According to a written statement from Holland America Line, the plane was on a shore excursion, sold through Holland America Line ship the MS Westerdam, when the accident happened about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan, near Ella Lake. The MS Westerdam set off to Alaska from Seattle on June 20.
“We’re incredibly saddened by this tragedy. Our prayers are with the families & friends of those lost in this accident,” Holland America Line said in a statement Thursday night.
According to the National Weather Service - Alaska Region Headquarters, weather today has been cloudy with rain with southeast winds 10 TO 20 mph. The evening's forecast is for rain and wind gusts increasing to 30 MPH.
Ian Gregor, with the Federal Aviation Administration, confirmed to NBC News the aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter and that it crashed under unknown circumstances above Ella Lake.
The downed aircraft was operated by Ketchikan-based Promech Air a local charter, tour and flightseeing business. According to Promech Air's website, Promech Air currently operates 4 de Havilland Beavers and 5 de Havilland single-turbine Otters. Promech Air is the largest air taxi in southern Southeast Alaska.
No further information is available at this time. Updates will follow as more information becomes available.