Former Alaska US Senator Ted Stevens was killed in a plane crash last night. Stevens was the longest serving member of elected Alaska Congressmen and Senators to serve in Washington, prior to being voted out after being convicted on charges of corruption. Stevens survived a crash in 1978 which killed his wife, Ann. Condolences to Mr. Steven s family, and the people of Alaska he served for so many years.
Former US Senator (Alaska) Ted Stevens
Rescue crews from the Alaska Air National Guard and theUnited States Coast Guard arrived on the scene more than 10 hours after the crash, hampered by rain and fog in an area of mountains and lakes north of Bristol Bay.
The European aerospace firm EADS said that the chief executive of its North American operations, Sean O’Keefe, 54, a former NASA administrator, was also on board.
UPDATE – Keith Cowing NASAWatch.com: 2:22 PM EDT: According to a family source both Sean O’Keefe and his son Kevin than survived the plane crash but they are both rather banged up.
The family of Mr. Stevens issued a statement on Tuesday morning that expressed concern but said nothing about the former senator’s fate:
“The Ted Stevens family offers their prayers for all those on board and for their families. We thank the brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to work with the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers.” The crash occurred about 320 miles southwest of Anchorage before 8 p.m. Alaska Daylight time, the National Transportation Safety Boardsaid. Another plane spotted the downed aircraft around 7 p.m. and notified authorities, the National Guard said.
Mr. Stevens, 86, was among the group flying to a lodge near Lake Aleknagik, where he often spent summers fishing. It was unclear why he and the other passengers were headed there.
The N.T.S.B. said that the crash was about 10 miles northwest of Lake Aleknagik, and the aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3T. The single-engine, high-wing airplane plane is owned by GCI, the Alaskan telecommunications provider, as is the lodge.
The plane went undetected by radar, because in the area where it went down, about 20 miles north of Dillingham, there is no radar coverage below about 4,000 feet, according to one air traffic control expert familiar with the area. The expert asked not to be identified because the N.T.S.B. is in charge of releasing information. The flight was under visual flight rules, two people familiar with the area said, meaning that it was not being directed by air traffic controllers. The N.T.S.B. said it was sending a team of investigators to the crash site, even though it said it did not know the identity of those on board. The agency does not ordinarily send a board member from Washington to the crashes of private or corporate planes. Mr. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican senator until he lost his bid for a seventh term in 2008 after he was found guilty of corruption charges; the case was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.
His stature in Alaska seemed to have remained virtually intact despite the scandal, and recently he had been campaigning with the state’s Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski. Sen. Murkowski issued a statement asking Alaskans to pray for those aboard the aircraft.
Mr. Stevens survived another plane crash on Dec. 4, 1978, that killed five of seven people on board, including his first wife, Ann. He was traveling on a Lear jet that crashed when landing at Anchorage International Airport, which was renamed Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in honor of the senator in 2000.
Before that 1978 crash, Mr. Stevens reportedly spoke of a premonition that he would die in a plane crash, a fate that is not unknown to many in Alaska who travel the vast state in small planes.