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Former Sen. Stevens killed in crash near Dillingham

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A longtime aide and family friend said Stevens was killed in the crash Monday night. (File/KTUU-DT) A longtime aide and family friend said Stevens was killed in the crash Monday night. (File/KTUU-DT)

by Channel 2 News staff
Monday, August 9, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Former Sen. Ted Stevens and four other people were killed in a plane crash Monday.

Five of the nine passengers of a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter were killed. Alaska State Troopers identified all of the victims in the crash Tuesday afternoon.

Dead are Stevens, the plane's pilot Terry Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Bill Phillips, Sr., Dana Tindall, 48 of Anchorage and her daughter, Corey Tindall, 16.

The four survivors were transported to Providence Hospital in Anchorage with varying degrees of injuries – they are William Phillips, Jr., 13, former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, 54, his son Kevin O'Keefe, and Jim Morhard of Alexandria, Va.

The remains of all five victims, are being flown to Anchorage.

Smith was the father-in-law of Maj. Aaron Malone, an Alaska National Air Guardsman who was killed in a C-17 crash two weeks ago while practicing for the military's air show.

Dana Tindall, a vice president for GCI, has been with the company for more than 24 years. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Alaska Pacific University.

Morhard is a Washington, D.C. lobbyist and the former chief of staff for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gov. Sean Parnell offered a tribute to the 86-year-old former senator at a press conference Tuesday.

Parnell said that while Stevens may have been small in stature, he was "larger than life."

"He built Alaska, he stood for Alaska and he fought for Alaskans," Parnell said. "Ted was a lion who retreated from nothing."

A timeline of the flight's downfall began to emerge on Tuesday.

Officials said that good Samaritans in Dillingham set out to investigate after the flight was overdue. They discovered the crash site about 17 miles north of Dillingham in a mountainous area and alerted authorities using a satellite phone at around 7 p.m. Weather kept night rescue crews battling bad weather conditions from the scene overnight, where Samaritans had already arrived and were providing medical assistance, said Air National Guard spokesperson Maj. Guy Hayes. A military C-130 and a Pave Hawk helicopter were waiting in Dillingham for the weather to break and reached the site just after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, transporting some survivors to Anchorage for medical treatment.

As of Tuesday, the response had been "confounded by the weather extremes that we've had to face," said Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus of the Alaska National Guard, which is coordinating the recovery response with the Coast Guard and other agencies. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a "Go-Team" from Washington D.C. early Tuesday morning to the crash site. An NTSB official said the team is responsible for investigating the most high-profile and catastrophic crashes.

Parnell said he learned of the crash and the possibility that Stevens was on board the plane late Monday night, and was informed that the former Senator was among the dead Tuesday morning.

"As a state, as a country and as a globe we are experiencing a tragedy," Parnell said. "As citizens of Alaska we have a long road of grief to walk." 

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