Ted Stevens, Former Senator From Alaska, Dies in Plane Crash
Five of the nine people on board the small plane headed to a remote fishing lodge were believed to have been killed in the crash, the authorities said. Mr. Stevens, who had been the longest-serving Republican in the United States Senate, was 86.
Sean O’Keefe, 54, a former NASAadministrator who now is an executive with the European aerospace firm EADS, was also on the plane with his son, but they both survived, according to an official briefed on the crash who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. Mr. O’Keefe, the official said, was among the three passengers airlifted to an Anchorage hospital. The body of Mr. Stevens was found just after daylight, according to a former aide to Mr. Stevens who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of respect to the family. “Last night, Alaska lost a hero and I lost a dear friend,” Senator Murkowski said in a statement. “The thought of losing Ted Stevens, a man who was known to business and community leaders, Native chiefs and everyday Alaskans as ‘Uncle Ted,’ is too difficult to fathom. His entire life was dedicated to public service — from his days as a pilot in World War II to his four decades of service in the United States Senate. He truly was the greatest of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ ”
Major Guy Hayes, chief of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard, did not identify any of the dead or the survivors, but said in a telephone interview that three of the survivors were airlifted onto a Coast Guard C-130 plane around 10 a.m. local time, and that the National Guard rescue workers were “going back to the scene to provide further medical attention to those on the ground.” He said that “Good Samaritans” who had gone to the crash site were also assisting the rescue operations.
The rescue crew was not able to reach the crash site for more than 12 hours after the accident because of rain, high winds and heavy fog in an area of mountains and lakes north of Bristol Bay.
The family of Mr. Stevens at first issued a statement on Tuesday morning that expressed concern but said nothing about the former senator’s fate:
“The Ted Stevens family offers their prayers for all those on board and for their families. We thank the brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to work with the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers.”
The crash occurred about 320 miles southwest of Anchorage, the National Transportation Safety Board said. Another plane spotted the downed aircraft around 7 p.m. and notified authorities, the National Guard said.
Mr. Stevens and the other passengers were flying to a lodge near Lake Aleknagik, where he often spent summers fishing. Mr. Stevens and Mr. O’Keefe had been longtime fishing buddies.
The N.T.S.B. said that the crash was about 10 miles northwest of Lake Aleknagik, and the aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3T. The single-engine, high-wing airplane plane is owned by GCI, the Alaskan telecommunications provider, as is the lodge.