Former Sen. Stevens dies in Alaska plane crash; 5 fatalities reported
By William Branigin, Dan Eggen and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; 4:11 PM
Former U.S. senator Ted Stevens (R) and four other people died in the crash of a small plane Monday in a remote part of southwestern Alaska while en route to a fishing lodge with a group that included former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, a family spokesman and U.S. officials said Tuesday.
O'Keefe and his son survived the crash, Reuters news agency reported. However, Alaskan officials, including Gov. Sean Parnell, declined to provide the names of survivors publicly, saying that notifications had not yet been completed.
Mitch Rose, Stevens's former chief of staff, said the family of the 86-year-old former senator has been notified that he was among the fatalities in the crash.
"They had obviously hoped for better news," Rose said Tuesday afternoon. He said a fuller statement from the family would be forthcoming.
According to an internal Federal Aviation Administration report, five people on board the small plane were killed and four were injured, two of them seriously.
O'Keefe, a longtime friend and protégé of Stevens, also was on the flight, according to the defense contracting company he heads. The company said it had no information on O'Keefe's fate.
O'Keefe, 54, who headed NASA from December 2001 to February 2005, is chief executive of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.
A spokesman for the Alaska National Guard, Maj. Guy Hayes, said rescue crews were trying to extract people who were injured in the crash. He said he could not immediately confirm the identities of those killed and injured.
"Right now we're trying to get at least three people out, and I think they're getting ready to go back again to work on more people," Hayes told CNN Tuesday afternoon Eastern time.
The internal FAA report said the crash occurred Monday about 20 miles north-northeast of Dillingham, Alaska. The plane had departed from Nerka, Alaska, and was en route to the Nushagak River, the FAA said. The single-engine 1957 De Havilland DHC-3 Otter aircraft was not being directed by air traffic controllers, which is not unusual in rural Alaska.
The time of the crash was not immediately clear, but federal agencies said it apparently occurred sometime Monday afternoon local time.
At the time, the wind was blowing at 10 mph, with gusts up to 17 mph, and visibility was three miles in light rain and mist, the FAA said.