Rust's Flying Service suspends operations after Maryland man dies in Tutka Bay plane crash
One person is dead and at least four people are injured after a floatplane carrying seven people crashed near the mouth of Tutka Bay near Homer on Friday.
The plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was attempting a departure in the middle of the bay around 10:12 a.m. when it crashed during takeoff. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Amanda Norcross said the plane never left the water.
The plane was carrying four adults and three children, according to Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Ken Marsh. He said the plane was planning to go to Anchorage.
According to the South Peninsula Hospital, five of the passengers made up an immediate family of a mother, father and three children. The two additional adults on the plane were a man who was related to the family and the pilot.
The mother and two of the children were medevaced to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage. One of those children is in critical condition, according to Marsh.
The third child and the pilot, identified as Engjell Berisha, were treated and released from the hospital. A hospital spokesperson says the relative is still at the hospital in Homer but is in stable condition.
The father, identified as 57-year-old Joseph Patenella of Maryland, died before making it to the hospital.
The plane is registered to Rust Properties, LLC. All passengers on board the plane were guests at the Tutka Bay Lodge, the manager told the USCG.
A joint statement from Rust's Flying Service and Tutka Bay Lodge was released on Friday evening. It reads:
“We are devastated by the news of the loss of life suffered in this incident. Our hearts go out to our guests and their family. Our focus is on assisting our guests, their family and loved ones, the pilot, our staffs and first responders during this active crisis response. We’d also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the first responders, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, Anchor Point Emergency Services, Kachemak Emergency Services and the community of Homer for their support and rescue efforts.”
The flying service has suspended its operations and is "cooperating fully with the Alaska State Troopers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and other authorities involved," the release said.
Details on how the plane crash are still under investigation.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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