One person is dead and six were rescued from a floatplane crash Tuesday on the mainland near Petersburg.
The plane was a deHavilland Beaver, a fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft owned by Pacific Wings of Petersburg with capacity for one pilot and six passengers. It was reported overdue Tuesday afternoon prompting a search by three commercial helicopters and a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Sitka.
Coast Guard spokesperson Grant DeVuyst said the crashed airplane was discovered Tuesday evening. “The plane which had seven passengers onboard, we were able to locate them when the Coast Guard MH60 Jayhawk helicopter crew spotted one of the survivors,” DeVuyst said. “We were able to hoist all six of the surviving passengers. Unfortunately one of the passengers was deceased. Of course our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased passenger. Thankfully we were able to get the other six back to Petersburg, back to medical attention.”
The plane crashed on the mountainside near LeConte Bay, a glacial fjord on the mainland east of Petersburg. Due to the steep terrain and late hour, rescuers did not recover the body of the person killed in the crash Tuesday. The Coast Guard is working with the Alaska State Troopers to come up with a recovery plan.
DeVuyst cited the plane’s emergency beacon in aiding the rescue. “Fortunately this plane did have a working emergency locator transmitter onboard,” DeVuyst said. “That’s the only reason that we knew there was trouble and that’s the only reason we were able to really get on scene and find them, the six survivors.”
No word yet on the identity of the person killed in the crash. The survivors were taken to Petersburg Medical Center Tuesday night. Pacific Wings is owned by Sunrise Aviation of Wrangell and offers flightseeing and air-taxi services around central Southeast.
(Editor’s note: this story was updated at 9:15 a.m. June 5th to clarify the person killed in crash was not recovered Tuesday and that the aircraft can carry one pilot and six passengers)