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Six confirmed dead as NTSB team arrives to investigate midair floatplane collision in Southeast Alaska

Zaz Hollander and Alex Demarban, Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage on

Published in News & Features

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The remains of the last two missing passengers in Monday's midair collision of two floatplanes in Southeast Alaska were recovered Tuesday, bringing the total number of dead to six.

A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Ketchikan to investigate the crash of the planes, which carried passengers from a cruise ship docked in Ketchikan.

The planes, with a total of 16 people aboard, collided Monday over George Inlet, about nine miles east of Ketchikan. Ten were rescued and are recovering. The remains of four passengers were recovered on Monday.

"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. "There has been a tremendous outpouring of compassion and support from everywhere in the community, and we offer sincere gratitude to all those who are responding to the crashes."

The six people killed were identified by Alaska State Troopers as pilot Randy Sullivan, 46, of Ketchikan; Simon Bodie, 56, of Tempe, New South Wales, Australia; Cassandra Webb, 62, of St. Louis; Ryan Wilk, 39, from Utah; Louis Botha, 46, from San Diego; and Elsa Wilk, 37, from Richmond, British Columbia.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a 14-member team of investigators to the Southeast Alaska city, spokesman Peter Knudson said. The group includes NTSB representatives from Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, as well as Denver and Wisconsin.

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It also includes an NTSB board member, a fairly unusual occurrence that accompanies "significant media interest," Knudson said. The story of the crash is attracting international attention.

Fourteen of the people involved in the collision -- everyone except the two pilots -- came off the Royal Princess, a megaship on an inaugural Alaska cruise and making a seven-day cruise.

All of them were on flightseeing trips.

A de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver carried five people -- all now confirmed dead, authorities said. A larger de Havilland Otter DHC-3 carried 11 people; one passenger died.


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