Tuesday, May 21, 2013
3 Men Killed In Denali Park Plane Crash Identified
Investigators are currently trying to figure out what caused a large cargo plane to crash within one mile of Denali National Park headquarters Sunday, killing all three men on board.
DENALI, Alaska (KTVA-CBS 11 News) Investigators are currently trying to figure out what caused a large cargo plane to crash within one mile of Denali National Park headquarters Sunday, killing all three men on board.
The three men who were on the Fairchild C-123 registered to All West Freight, Inc. of Delta Junction were 61-year-old Bill Michel of Delta Junction, 52-year-old John Eshleman of Wasilla and 66-year-old Paul Quartly of Wasilla. Michel was the owner of All West Freight, Inc. and the plane's pilot.
Numerous witnesses, including many tourists, reported seeing the plane crash into Mount Healy's south-facing slope, 200 yards north of Denali Park Road, around 3 p.m.
"We were kind of talking about it, and it looked like he was flying kind of low, and he banked hard to the left and went straight down. We saw the fireball come up from the back side of the mountains," said tourist Brent Stache from Milwaukee, WI. "If you can imagine a big jet crashing and all the airplane fuel starting on fire and going straight up in the air."
One witness says she jumped up to get help as soon as she saw the explosion.
"Immediately, I stopped taking pictures and went inside and got the bartender at the restaurant to call the emergency facility," says Jeannie McGuire, a Key West Florida Tourist. "It took about 20 minutes before we heard any sirens. There were a lot of people screaming in the restaurant. I was shocked and startled," says McGuire.
The crash's immediate impact started a wildfire. First responders made it on the scene within minutes, but the wreckage was already engulfed in flames.
The wildfire's active status hampered investigators, including Alaska State Troopers, and made it hard to initially release information.
The eight Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers that were dropped onto the scene, demobilized around 2:00 p.m on Monday. The fire is burning at around one acre.
Investigators from the NTSB and the FAA are looking into what caused the crash.
The Denali Park Road is open to traffic, and the Rock Creek and Roadside Trails are now open.
The Temporary Flight Restriction over the area has been lifted.
The FAA confirms that the plane's tail number was N709RR, which is the same plane that was used in most of the scenes in the 1997 movie, "Con Air" starring Nicolas Cage.