All 10 killed in Soldotna, Alaska, air taxi crash
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — All 10 people aboard an air taxi were killed as the aircraft crashed and was engulfed in flames at a small Alaska airport.
Before firefighters could get to it, the de Havilland DHC3 Otter began burning just after 11 a.m. Sunday at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.
Firefighters from Central Emergency Services were the first on the scene, Capt. Lesley Quelland told the Anchorage Daily News.
“We saw the plume immediately when we left the station,” Quelland said Sunday evening.
It was a big, black cloud of smoke visible from the station, about three driving miles from the airport, she said. Firefighters found “the aircraft was crashed off the side of the runway and it was fully involved in flames,” Quelland said.
It took crews about 10 minutes to put out the fire. Everyone died inside the plane, she said.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson confirmed to The Associated Press that the dead included nine passengers and the pilot.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Otter was operated by Rediske Air, based out of another Kenai Peninsula community, Nikiski.
Will Satathite, who was working Sunday at Rediske Air's Nikiski office, confirmed to the Peninsula Clarion newspaper that the aircraft was flown by Nikiski pilot and company owner Willy Rediske.
A man who didn't identify himself at the Rediske office declined comment later Sunday to the AP, saying the crash was under investigation.
Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Meagan Peters said a fire that consumed the aircraft initially kept firefighters from reaching the wreckage. The passengers have not been identified.
The Soldotna Police Department said Sunday evening that the remains of all 10 people have been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Anchorage for autopsies and positive identifications.
Police said in a release through the Alaska State Troopers that weather at the time of the crash was reported to be cloudy with a light wind.
Johnson said initial reports have the plane crashing after departure, but that will have to be confirmed by investigators.
The NTSB is sending an investigative team from Washington that's scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon. Also taking part will be Alaska-based investigator Brice Banning, who was called back from the Asiana crash in San Francisco.
For many Alaskans, flying across the state is common because of the limited road system, exposing residents to a litany of hazards, including treacherous mountain passes and volatile weather. It's possible to drive from Anchorage to Soldotna, but it's about a four-hour trip as the highway hugs Turnagain Arm and then cuts through a mountain passage.
Soldotna was founded in 1947 by World War II veterans who were given 90-day preference for homesteading rights in 1947, according to a state website. The city, now with a population of about 4,300, is on the banks of the Kenai River, and the area is busy this time of the year with people fishing for salmon.
Alaska has already seen a several plane crashes this year, including a June 28 crash that killed a pilot and two passengers on a commercial tour in the Alaska Range.
In another crash Saturday, two men had to swim to shore after their plane went down in the waters off Kodiak Island. The small plane crashed after its engine sputtered out, and the men swam about 50 yards, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
The Soldotna crash also came a day after two teenagers were killed when an Asiana flight crashed at San Francisco's airport.
The municipal airport is located about a mile from Soldotna's commercial business area and is adjacent to the Kenai River, according to the city's website.
The runway is 5,000 feet long and paved.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers should corner the market at NFL Draft
- Latrobe baseball routs Connellsville to move closer to WPIAL playoff berth
- 2 men hospitalized in seperate shootings in Pittsburgh
- Leechburg softball wins, ties WPIAL record with 29th consecutive playoff berth
- Most talent in NFL Draft play at Steelers’ positions of need
- Hammel, Cubs shut down Pirates, snapping 5-game winning streak
- BVA stadium upgrades OK’d
- Penguins’ Pouliot learns from rookie season
- Arnold, New Kensington drug busts net 2 arrests, heroin, cocaine, cash
- Monessen buys four heavy duty trucks
- Students learn outside at Westmoreland County’s Envirothon in Hempfield