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ANCHORAGE (AP) — The pilot in a deadly Alaska crash turned his sightseeing plane to avoid rising terrain and slammed into the side of a mountain, according to preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The pilot of the Pacific Wings de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver was making his fourth flight of the day when the floatplane crashed June 4, the report states.
One passenger, 66-year-old Thomas L. Rising of Santa Fe, N.M., died in the crash, and two members of a Pennsylvania family — Amy Allen, 54, and her 19-year-old son, Ben — were seriously injured. The pilot sustained minor injuries and so did Amy Allen’s husband, the Rev. Frank Allen, 54, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Wayne, Pa., and the couple’s sons, Will, 24; Rob, 21; and Ben, 19.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued the survivors from the 912-foot level several hours after the crash 14 miles east of the southeast Alaska town of Petersburg. Rising’s body was recovered from the wreckage the following night.
The NTSB said the pilot said there were no mechanical problems with the floatplane that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot said weather conditions, however, had deteriorated throughout the day, with a ceiling of about 2,000 feet, fog along mountain ridges and light rain.
The report was released late Wednesday, according to KTUU.
The Allens, who are declining to give media interviews, were on a cruise line expedition for alumni of Duke University and the flight was among the excursions offered. Ben Allen is a student at Duke, in Durham, N.C., and the other family members are alumni, according to Michael Penn, a spokesman for the Duke Alumni Association.
NTSB investigator Brice Banning also went to the site to conduct an onsite inspection. He has said the insurance company for the plane is arranging for the removal of the wreckage to transport it to Petersburg, where Banning will inspect it again.
The six passengers were part of an expedition run by Lindblad Expeditions, a travel company that offers the eight-day cruise aboard the 62-passenger Sea Bird in an alliance with National Geographic. They were on a sightseeing flight en route to LeConte Glacier when the crash occurred.
The Allens were among 27 people on the cruise as part of Duke University’s alumni travel program.