National Park Service pilot hurt, rescued in crash near Nome
The pilot and sole occupant of a National Park Service aircraft was medevaced to Anchorage after a Monday crash near Nome.
A Tuesday statement on the crash from the Park Service said the Cessna 185 went down in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve on the Seward Peninsula, roughly four miles northeast of Serpentine Hot Springs.
A distress signal from the plane’s emergency locator transmitter was received just after 9 a.m. Monday by Denali National Park staff, who relayed it to the Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
“The NPS pilot, based in Kotzebue, was able to communicate with an overhead airplane and reported he had minor injuries and that there were no other passengers on board,” Park Service officials wrote. “He was on duty flying a mission from Kotzebue to Nome when the plane went down, and sustained significant damage.”
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plane, as well as an HC-130 search plane and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter dispatched by RCC repeatedly tried to reach the scene, according to the Park Service, but were turned back by “high winds and blowing snow.” A ground rescue effort was assembled in Shishmaref, but couldn’t launch due to whiteout conditions.
Later in the day, amid temperatures in the teens, weather cleared enough for the Pave Hawk to reach the crashed Cessna.
“According to Alaska Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Evan Budd, the downed pilot was located with adequate food and survival gear to wait out the storm despite his injuries,” Park Service officials wrote. “He was stabilized and transported to [JBER] and then to [Providence Alaska Medical Center] in Anchorage, where he was treated and released.”
Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office, said investigators were first informed of the crash Tuesday and were working to learn more.
“We’re going to hopefully be talking to the pilot in the morning,” Johnson said. “His health is first and foremost.”
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.