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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

Kiffer said the Beaver appears to have broken apart in the air, scattering wreckage across a large area. The debris field was about half a mile long and about 1,000 feet wide. Much of the field is on land.

The group's volunteers located parts including the Beaver's emergency location transmitter, a large chunk of the fuselage and personal items carried by those aboard.

Two divers with the group on Tuesday searched a large area, including the waters around the Beaver's floats, engine and remaining part of the fuselage. The two sections of damaged fuselage were about 850 feet apart.

"(The divers) located some personal items but no indications of fatalities," he said.

The Otter was located across the inlet, in saltwater, but close to shore.

On Monday, Kiffer, a medic, flew with others to that crash scene in a helicopter, after seeing no victims at the wreckage of the Beaver.

Four victims from the Otter were on shore, he said. A boat operated by Allen Marine Tours had already removed six other survivors with less serious injuries from the beach, ferrying them back to Ketchikan for medical help, he said. They all had made a "short swim" to the beach to await rescue, he said.

The Coast Guard and other Good Samaritan responders were already on scene.

"When we arrived ... everyone was very calm," he said. "We had some injuries, broken bones, some lacerations, some back injuries. But everyone was reasonably calm."

Princess said it activated a team of employees to assist the families impacted by the crash.


"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," Princess spokesman Brian O'Connor said in a statement.

The Royal Princess was delayed for 3.5 hours in Ketchikan. The ship arrived in Juneau on Tuesday.

Passenger Lyn Young, an Australian on her second cruise to Alaska, described a shocked, somber mood aboard the ship following word of the crash Monday night. Dinner was very quiet, Young said. Another passenger said she'd gone on a flightseeing tour just before the crash.

"The last thing you expect when you go away on holiday is to end up a statistic," she said.

A large number of agencies were involved in the search, including the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska State Troopers, Ketchikan rescue squad, and Temsco Helicopters, with the Ketchikan Fire Department and North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department helping to care for and transport patients.

(ADN reporter James Brooks contributed to this article.)

(c)2019 Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage, Alaska)

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