skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens Dies In Plane Crash

UPDATE: JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A spokesman for the family of Ted Stevens says the former senator has died in a plane crash in Alaska.

Mitch Rose tells The Associated Press that the family has been notified that the 86-year-old Stevens was among those killed.

Full story follows...

Five people were killed when a privately-owned turbo-prop carrying nine people crashed in a remote part of southern Alaska, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Former Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe were believed to have been aboard the flight, but it's unclear whether they were among the dead.

Sen. Ted Stevens (D-AK) is trailed by reporters as he walked off the Senate Floor at the U.S. Capitol November 20, 2008 in Washington DC. Stevens was convicted last month on seven counts of corruption and also recently lost his Senate Seat.
Enlarge this image

Above: Sen. Ted Stevens (D-AK) is trailed by reporters as he walked off the Senate Floor at the U.S. Capitol November 20, 2008 in Washington DC. Stevens was convicted last month on seven counts of corruption and also recently lost his Senate Seat.

Officials said Tuesday afternoon that military rescuers had arrived at the crash site.

Reports from officials in Alaska were that nine people were aboard the aircraft and that "it appears that there are five fatalities," NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz told The Associated Press in Washington.

A U.S. government official told The Associated Press that Alaska authorities have been told that Stevens, a former longtime Republican senator, was on the plane. The official, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, says Stevens' condition is unknown.

The federal official declined to be publicly identified because the crash response and investigation are under way.

NPR'S Martin Kaste reported that the plane that went down near the town of Dillingham was apparently heading to a Bristol Bay lodge owned by GCI Communications, an Alaska telecom company.

"Reports from the area say there was rain and fog — visibility was not good," said Kaste, who noted that the poor conditions hampered rescue crews' efforts to get to the site and help possible survivors.

The Bristol Bay area, located about 300-plus miles southwest of Anchorage, is sparsely inhabited but is a popular summer destination for sportfishing. Private resorts frequently host politicians and business executives from the Lower Forty-Eight.

"There are a lot of planes in the sky, and if a plane goes down, there will be other planes around. Apparently, the crash site was already seen from the air," Kaste said.

Alaska National Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes said the Guard was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham at about 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane. He said five people were on scene early Tuesday helping the crash victims, but it was unclear how they reached the site.

A second U.S. government official in Washington said Tuesday that the National Guard in Alaska reported a private medical team was dropped near the crash site by commercial helicopter Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard Petty Officer David Mosley said the agency has a plane flying over the crash scene, scouting it to make sure it's safe for helicopters to come into the area with pararescuers.

Stevens was one of two survivors in a 1978 plane crash at Anchorage International Airport that killed his wife, Ann, and several others.

Defense contractor EADS North America said Tuesday morning that O'Keefe, the CEO of the U.S.-based division of the European company, was a passenger on the small plane. The company said it had no further information about O'Keefe's status.

Stevens, a moderate Republican, was appointed to the Senate in 1968 and served longer than any other Republican in history.

He remarried several years after the 1978 crash — he and his second wife, Catherine, have a daughter, Lily.

Over the years, Stevens directed billions of dollars to Alaska. But one of his projects - infamously known as the "Bridge to Nowhere" - became a symbol of pork-barrel spending in Congress and a target of taxpayer groups who challenged a $450 million appropriation for bridge construction in Ketchikan.

Stevens' standing in Alaska was toppled by corruption allegations and a federal trial in 2008. He was convicted of all seven counts - and narrowly lost his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich in the election the following week.

But five months after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder sought to dismiss the indictment against Stevens and not proceed with a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct by federal prosecutors.

Stevens' family thanked those trying to reach the site of a plane crash in southwest Alaska in a statement released Tuesday morning by a former Stevens chief of staff.

Lopatkiewicz said the NTSB is sending a team to the crash site.

In Washington, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the aircraft is a DeHavilland DHC-3T registered to Anchorage-based General Communication Corp.

AP story follows...

A plane believed to be carrying eight people, including former Sen. Ted Stevens, crashed in southwest Alaska and rescue crews were trying to reach the wreckage early Tuesday, authorities said.

Alaska National Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes said there were possible fatalities. Five good Samaritans were on scene early Tuesday helping the crash victims, he said. It was unclear how they reached the site.

A U.S. government official told The Associated Press that Alaska authorities have been told the former longtime Republican senator is among several passengers on the plane. The official, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, says Stevens' condition is unknown.

The federal official declined to be publicly identified because the crash response and investigation are under way.

Stevens, a moderate Republican, was appointed to the Senate in 1968 and served longer than any other Republican in history. He directed billions of dollars to Alaska over the years.

But one of his projects - infamously known as the "Bridge to Nowhere" - became a symbol of pork-barrel spending in Congress and a target of taxpayer groups who challenged a $450 million appropriation for bridge construction in Ketchikan.

Stevens' standing in Alaska was toppled by corruption allegations and a federal trial in 2008. He was convicted of all seven counts - and narrowly lost his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich in the election the following week.

But five months after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder sought to dismiss the indictment against Stevens and not proceed with a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct by federal prosecutors.

Hayes said the Guard was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham at about 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane. But severe weather has hampered search and rescue efforts.

Hayes said he was told by Alaska State Troopers that there were "eight or nine" people on board, though a spokeswoman for the troopers, Megan Peters, refused to comment.

She said all the agency could say for sure is that a plane went down and crews were "aggressively" trying to reach the crash site but having difficulty doing so. As of 4 a.m. Tuesday, she said she still hadn't received word that crews had reached the site.

"I can't go beyond, 'We're responding to a plane crash,'" she said.

The National Weather Service reported rain and fog at Dillingham, with low clouds and limited visibility early Tuesday.

Conditions ranged from visibility of about 10 miles reported at Dillingham shortly before 7 p.m. Monday to 3 miles, with rain and fog, reported about an hour later, according to the agency.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigative team has been dispatched from Washington, D.C., and was expected on the ground Tuesday morning.

In Washington, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the aircraft is a DeHavilland DH3T registered to Anchorage-based GCI Communication Corp.

Dillingham is located in northern Bristol Bay, about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Please stay on topic and be as concise as possible. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Community Discussion Rules. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus