Dead, 1 Missing After Alaska Floatplanes Collide

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 16, 2019

Reports are now coming in that a Richmond woman and her husband were two of the six people who died in Monday's double floatplane crash in Alaska. The second plane, a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC-3, was on a Misty Fjords shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises and operated by Taquan Air and had ten cruise ship guests on board, plus a pilot.

"All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened by this tragic news and we are extending our full support to the investigating authorities as well as the traveling companions of the guests involved".

An Australian cruise ship passenger has died after two sightseeing seaplanes collided in mid-air in Alaska. Floatplanes have pontoons mounted under the fuselage so they can land on water. Visitors marvel at the lakes, snowcapped peaks and glacier valleys in the wilderness area.

In a statement to ABC News, Princess Cruise Lines said: "We are incredibly distressed by the situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the planes and their families". However, Princess Cruises said all were Americans except for two passengers who had been missing and were from Canada and Australia. The Coast Guard recovered the bodies of two guests and the pilot.

The Otter plane, operated by Taquan Air, a regional airline based in Ketchikan, was flying a shore excursion with 10 passengers and a pilot aboard. One person was critical and three were in a serious condition, it cited a medic at a local hospital as saying.

"In total 10 people were rescued and six people were found deceased", it said.

Chris John, an official with the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, said it appeared the Beaver crashed on a steep rocky shoreline, ending up partially submerged and upside down. Four patients with broken bones were later transferred to a hospital in Seattle.

Investigators plan to recover the wreckage, speak with witnesses including the surviving pilot, and acquire additional data to determine "how the two planes came together", she said.

"Our community is heartbroken over this tragedy and its devastating impact on so many families", said Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Landis in the borough's prepared statement.

Transport safety investigators from Anchorage and Washington DC were headed to the crash site on Tuesday morning local time. You can watch that above.

The floatplanes were carrying tourists from a cruise ship when they collided over 3,000 feet in the air.

Image of a downed plane following the crash in Alaska Monday.

Eleven of them were on the scene Tuesday night with the other three on the way. The other one was by an independent carrier.

Simon Bodie has been confirmed as the Australian killed when two sightseeing planes collided in Alaska.

There's very little or no reduction in visibility that comes with having floats instead of wheels, he said. But an official said Alaska is extremely remote, and said it's "one of the most hard conditions" to operate in.

The cause of the crash in relatively good weather, high overcast skies with light southeast winds was not known.

"They call it Misty Fjords for a reason", McCaughey said.

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