6 confirmed dead; investigation continues into 2 plane collision in Southeast Alaska
Six people have been confirmed dead following a Monday crash involving two flightseeing planes in Southeast Alaska.
According to a news release published on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough's Facebook page, the remains of the final two passengers missing from the two planes were recovered Tuesday evening.
Alaska State Troopers named the six people killed in a late-Tuesday dispatch:
- Randy Sullivan, 46-year-old male, pilot, from Ketchikan, Alaska
- Simon Bodie, 56-year-old male from Tempe, New South Wales, Australia
- Cassandra Webb, 62-year-old female from Saint Louis, Missouri
- Ryan Wilk, 39-year-old male, from Utah
- Louis Botha, 46-year-old male, from San Diego, California
- Elsa Wilk, 37-year-old female, from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
The dispatch states the Canadian and Australian Consulates have been notified of the incident.
A team of 12 National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived Tuesday and are expected to be on scene for five to seven days while they conduct an investigation into the collision. During an afternoon news conference, NTSB's Jennifer Homendy said the two floatplanes collided at approximately 3,300 feet in the air at 12:21 p.m. Monday.
The borough's statement listed the conditions of the survivors: 3 remain in an area hospital in fair condition; 3 were released throughout the day; and 4 had been airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Harborview spokesperson Susan Gregg said those four people, all in their 60s, are being treated for injuries ranging from fractures to their ribs, pelvis, arm and spine.
In a Wednesday morning update, Gregg said all four patients at the center are now in satisfactory condition. They include a 67-year-old man, who was originally in serious (but improving) condition in intensive care, a 63-year-old woman, and a married couple, both 61.
Gregg said none of the patients are from Alaska. They have expressed their thanks for the responders, those at the scene and the care provided at both hospitals.
Princess Cruises said in a statement that they would not be releasing personal information, including the names of those involved in the collision, regarding their guests.
Family members who want to check on the status of loved ones aboard the Royal Princess cruise can call the cruise line's family assistance line at 800-693-7222.
Preliminary FAA reports
A preliminary accident report posted online by the Federal Aviation Administration overnight shows that everyone on board the independent float plane involved in Monday's midair collision near Ketchikan has died.
The report, which links to the plane's registration number, also revealed the registered owner of the tour plane as Mountain Air Services LLC.
A spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft involved in the collision are a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a de Havilland Otter DHC-3.
The de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver was the plane carrying five people — one pilot and four Princess Cruises passengers. The plane was found upside down in the water, according to the FAA.
There are conflicting reports on the number of deaths in the crash from the U.S. Coast Guard, Princess Cruises and the FAA. As of Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard and Princess Cruises are only confirming four deaths, though the cruise line initially said there were five.
"Neither aircraft were under air traffic control at the time," the spokesperson said. "The FAA and the [National Transportation Safety Board] are investigating."
A second preliminary accident report on the plane carrying 11 people, which was operated by Taquan Air, shows that the condition of 10 of them is unknown. However, releases from Taquan Air Monday evening and another from Princess Cruises Tuesday morning said that nine passengers were rescued and receiving medical attention. According to the Tuesday release from Princess Cruises one other was recovered by the Coast Guard overnight.
'We're all processing it differently'
Royal Princess passengers arrived Tuesday in Juneau, about two hours later than originally scheduled, many of them still thinking of those either killed or injured in Monday's collision.
Several passengers told KTVA the mood went somber as the ship pulled away from the Ketchikan berth and headed north.
“I think all of us realize how quickly, even though we come up to celebrate, to enjoy life and enjoy our time, how brief life is and how important it is to be ready to leave this world,” said Randy Barton, who is visiting Alaska from North Carolina.
Barton said that just before re-boarding in Ketchikan the a chorus of ambulance and fire truck sirens pierced the air, prompting him to say, “something tragic is happening.”
Passengers said Royal Princess provided trained counselors and also offered full refunds to passengers who declined flight seeing tours in other ports of call.
David Yost, making his second trip to Alaska, said he could sense passengers were looking forward to their next stops, but won’t soon forget those who could not go on.
“You could feel it; it’s in the air,” he said. “You could feel, not a tension, but you could feel a little bit of grief from everybody. Everyone was affected. Everyone is feeling it one way or another. We’re all processing it differently.”
Correction: Alaska State Troopers corrected their previous release in which they stated Louis Botha, a 46-year-old from California, was a female. Louis is a male.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.