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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

The remains recovered Tuesday were both from the Beaver, said Chris John, with the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. They were located in the woods not far from the water.

Taquan Air operated the Otter, which was flying a shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises. The flight was returning from a tour of the Misty Fjords National Monument and carried 10 guests, all Americans, from the Royal Princess and a pilot.

Jennifer Homendy, the NTSB board member, said after she arrived in Ketchikan that preliminary data shows both planes were inbound to Ketchikan when they struck each other at about 3,300 feet altitude, at 12:21 p.m., she said.

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. The team expects to be on the ground in Ketchikan for about a week.

She asked people to email witness@ntsb.gov with information about the crash.

Ketchikan residents mourned the loss of the pilot who flew the Beaver, Randy Sullivan, of Mountain Air Service.

 

He was a high school classmate, said Russell Thomas, a general manager with the George Inlet Lodge. The lodge served as a staging area on the west side of the inlet where boats brought injured passengers for pickup by ambulances.

"Our thoughts are with his wife, Julie, and their kids, as well as the entire Mountain Air Service team," Thomas said.

Monday night, commercial divers recovered the body of the passenger from the Otter who died, said Lt. Brian Dykens, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman. The plane is submerged in about 80 feet of water, and largely intact, he said.

"This (deceased) individual appears to have had difficulty egressing the plane," Dykens said.

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