ANCHORAGE (AP) — A pilot has died and a passenger was injured in a plane crash on Alaska's North Slope, authorities said.
The single-engine Cessna 185 was en route Thursday from Fairbanks to a research field site when it crashed about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Utqiagvik, KTUU-TV reported.
Director of Government External Affairs for the North Slope Borough D.J. Fauske said search and rescue pilots respond to an emergency beacon from the lone passenger, University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Ben Jones.
The pilot Jim Webster died before crews made it to the crash site. They were the only two aboard the plane.
"Given the temperature and location, I don't know if (Jones) would have survived the night obviously if he had to wait till the morning," Fauske said.
Jones was taken to a hospital in Utqiagvik with multiple fractures but is expected to recover, he said.
Jones studies changing landscapes due to permafrost and was scheduled to service instruments at Teshekpuk Lake Observatory, officials said. He was originally expected to leave on May 20.
The temperature was minus 5 degrees and there were "horrible foggy conditions" when authorities responded around 8 p.m., Fauske said.
Webster was well-respected and "a phenomenal pilot," family friend Maureen Meeks told the Anchorage Daily News when reached at Webster's Flying Service on Friday. "Anybody that used this company loved it."
The National Transportation Safety Board in Alaska is investigating the crash with the borough and the Federal Aviation Administration, safety board spokesperson Clint Johnson said, adding that investigators are currently unable to travel to the scene because of the coronavirus pandemic.