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Three dead in plane crash near Juneau
Annie Zak,Laurel Andrews,Jerzy ShedlockApril 8, 2016
Three people died in the crash of a single-engine plane on Admiralty Island south of Juneau on Friday, according to Lance Ewers, a captain at Sitka Mountain Rescue. The only survivor, whom Alaska State Troopers identified as 21-year-old Morgan Enright of Ketchikan, was being flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment, according to a spokesman at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, where she was originally taken.
Troopers identified the victims as 60-year-old David Galla (the pilot), 61-year-old Greg Scheff and 57-year-old Thomas Siekawitch, all of Wrangell. Their families have been told of their deaths.
The Sunrise Aviation Cessna 206 had been flying from Wrangell to Angoon, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert said. It crashed in a snowy, mountainous area at an elevation of about 2,300 feet on the southeast end of the Island, Eggert said.
Sometime before 10 a.m. Friday, the plane’s emergency beacon went off, said Eggert, who did not immediately know the exact timing of the crash.
When the beacon was activated, a commercial helicopter diverted its course and found the wreckage while the Coast Guard launched its own helicopter from Air Station Sitka.
The Coast Guard’s helicopter was unable to land due to the terrain, so it returned to Sitka to pick up members of the Sitka Mountain Rescue group. The helicopter returned to the crash site and lowered the rescuers to the ground, Eggert said.
“At this time we don’t have any indication as to what may have caused this crash,” Eggert said.
Lucy Robinson at Sunrise Aviation confirmed the company owns the plane that crashed. She doesn’t work there but is helping field phone calls Friday because it's a family business, and said Sunrise isn’t commenting right now on the crash.
Corporate records show Galla, the pilot, was also a vice president of Sunrise Aviation.
National Transportation Safety Board region chief Clint Johnson said the agency would send two investigators to Juneau: Shaun Williams from Anchorage and Josh Cawthra from Seattle.
“We’ve been led to believe this airplane is in a very challenging area as far as the topography,” Johnson said.
Enright, the passenger who survived the crash, is an equipment operator at Ketchikan Ready-Mix and Quarry, according to manager Hope Burnette.
Enright was headed to Angoon to work on a ferry terminal project. She and other employees had flown there before, though Burnette did not know if any of the flights were direct like Friday’s. There were no other employees aboard the plane, Burnette said.
Enright is the daughter of Ketchikan Ready-Mix and Quarry’s owner Loren Enright.
“She’s a fabulous, happy person,” Burnette said. “She’s strong and we’re sure she’s going to be OK.”
Ewers, the rescue group captain, said it will take more time to remove the bodies of the three victims.
"We’ll be working into the night for certain, working with the Coast Guard and the troopers to get this situation resolved," said Ewers on Friday afternoon. "Looking like it’s going to be an extended recovery of the three folks who didn’t make it through the crash. We are preparing, developing plans to go back to the scene tomorrow to get our team members home tonight. So we can get back in there and extract the other three."
Contact Laurel Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org