Updated: Former Sen. Stevens Dies In GCI Plane Crash In Alaska

Author:
Publish date:

Five people, including former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, died when a an aircraft owned by Alaskan cable and telecommunications company GCI went down in a remote area of the state Monday night with nine people on board,
reports say.

Alaska State Troopers, according to published reports, identified the deceased as Stevens, Bill Phillips, Sr., a former aide to Stevens; the plane's pilot Terry Smith; Dana Tindall, GCI vice president of legal, regulatory and governmental affairs; and her daughter, Corey Tindall.

The four other passengers -- William Phillips, Jr., former NASA adminstrator Sean O'Keefe, his son Kevin, and Jim Morhard, a Washington lobbyist and former chief of staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- survived the crash. The elder O'Keefe is currently chief executive of the U.S. division of European defense contractor EADS North America.

According to The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, the 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter aircraft crashed near Dillingham, a town in northern Bristol Bay, about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage. 

The plane was en route to a fishing lodge, also owned by GCI, near Lake Aleknagik, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

On Tuesday morning, Television station KTUU reported thatStevens was dead, citing an aide and family friend; other outlets later reported Stevens was killed.

A family spokesman for Stevens confirmed in midday that the former U.S. Senator. did not survive the plane crash.

An entry on GCI's Web site confirmed that Tindall, a 24-year veteran with the cable company, and her 16-year-old daughter, perished in the crash.

Earlier, GCI CEO Ronald Duncan said in a statement on the Web site: "This accident claimed the lives of Alaska's great champion, Senator Ted Stevens, and other individuals who distinguished themselves through public and private service to this state and our nation. I want to express the profound sorrow felt at GCI over the loss of such good friends. We are deeply grateful to the search-and-rescue professionals and the many good Samaritans who responded so quickly and rendered assistance to the injured passengers. On behalf of the men and women of GCI, I offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends dealing with this heartbreaking event. We will do all we can to support them in the weeks and months ahead."

Ted Stevens

According to a statement by the National Transportation Safety Board, an NTSB team was being dispatched to the site early Tuesday morning to investigate the crash.

Personnel from the National Guard were sent to the scene Monday night but were battling inclement weather, a report on the Anchorage Daily News Web site stated. However, the paper said that a private medical team was dropped to the site of the crash by helicopter to assist the survivors.

GCI is the largest cable and telephone company in Alaska. GCI representatives could not be reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.

The former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Stevens had been a key figure in digital-TV-transition legislation, the network-neutrality debate, and the push for the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on indecency.

He was forced out of his chairmanship, and ultimately lost his bid for reelection, after his conviction for failing to report on disclosure forms work done on his house by an oil services company with business before the committee that he once chaired.

Stevens maintained his innocence, vowed to fight the charges and stayed in the 2008 race, which he lost by only few thousand votes. The conviction was ultimately overturned.

Stevens had been the longest-serving Republican senator at the time of his exit.

Related