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4 Dead, 6 Survive Plane Crash Near Saint Mary's

By Austin Baird, Political, Rural Reporter, abaird@ktuu.com
Published On: Nov 29 2013 08:16:00 PM AKST
Plane Crash Investigation near Saint Mary's

Alaska State Troopers

Alaska State Troopers confirm that four people died in a Friday (11/29/13) night crash of a Hageland commuter flight near the Western Alaska community of Saint Mary's.

ANCHORAGE -

Alaska State Troopers confirm that four people, including a baby boy, died in a Friday night crash of an Era Alaska commuter flight near the Western Alaska community of Saint Mary's.

NTSB spokesperson Clint Johnson says nearly a dozen people, were on board the Cessna 208 that departed from Bethel and crashed about four miles southeast of Saint Mary's.

"Unfortunately we have four fatalities, […] -- one of them was a lap child," Johnson said.

The dead include pilot Terry Hanson, 68, and passengers Rose Polty, 57 of Mountain Village, Richard Polty, 65 of Mountain Village, and Wyatt Coffee, five-months old of Mountain Village.

Troopers say Melanie Coffee, 25 of Mountain Village/Pilot Station, Pauline Johnson, 37 of Mountain Village, Kylan Johnson, 14 of Mountain Village, Shannon Lawrence, Tonya Lawrence, 35 of Mountain Village, and Garrett Moses, 30 of Mountain Village, survived the crash.

All of the survivors were taken to Anchorage hospitals for treatment and were listed in fair condition, with the exception of Tonya Lawerence, who suffered serious injuries.

Next of kin has been notified.

HAGELAND AVIATION: 'TRAGIC'

Hageland Aviation Services via Era Alaska operated the flight that turned deadly, and the company issued a news release Saturday morning, which includes additional information on the crash.

"Hageland Aviation flight 1453 bound for Mountain Village and St. Mary’s departed Bethel at approximately 5:40 p.m. with nine passengers and one crewmember,” said Jim Hickerson, President of Hageland Aviation. “We were advised at approximately 6:34 p.m. the Cessna 208 crashed approximately four miles from the St. Mary’s airport.”

Hageland also noted that it is “fully cooperating with authorities to determine the cause of the accident,” and it is “do[ing] what we can to ease the suffering of those involved in the accident.”

INITIAL REPORTS, RESPONSE

The single-engine plane was reported missing at about 7 p.m. Friday. According to NTSB, investigators haven't heard of any radio calls from the plane indicating distress.

Emergency responders found the wreckage near Saint Mary's at 8:30 p.m. In addition to troopers, personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey, the 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center and LifeMed Alaska responded and are assessing survivors on scene.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records show there were calm winds around the time of the reported crash. The temperature was roughly 18 degrees.

Residents of nearby villages reported ice fog near the time of the crash, though the cause remains unclear.

Johnson says two NTSB investigators will depart for Saint Mary's at first light Saturday.

Editor’s Note: Number of passengers on board and survivors corrected based on additional information from NTSB.

Channel 2's Samantha Angaiak, Chris Klint, Mike Ross and Neil Torquiano contributed to this story. Channel 2 KTUU.com will provide updates as soon as information is available.