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Wed, Sep 01, 2004

Air National Guard To The Rescue

Two Survive, One Lost In Alaska Mishap

Two men survived and one died in an aircraft crash near McGrath (AK). They were found by an Alaska Air National Guard search-and-rescue team.

The civilians were attempting to travel from here to Kotzebue in a De Havilland DHC-3 Otter on Aug. 27. Another airplane, apparently traveling with them as a group, had taken off minutes earlier and arrived safely.

That pilot reported the overdue aircraft to Federal Aviation Administration officials and subsequently the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

Severe weather and heavy smoke in and around the area kept would-be searchers at bay Aug. 27 and 28, said Maj. Mike Haller an Alaska National Guard spokesman.

Air Guard officials sent an HC-130 aircraft and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

The HC-130 crew spotted one man, who was waving his hands as they flew over the wreckage of the DHC-3 Otter about 35 miles northwest of here, Major Haller said.

Pararescuemen jumped from their aircraft and landed near the crash site. They were immediately able to help the survivors and stabilize them, he said.

The Pave Hawk arrived about a half-hour later and brought the survivors and pararescumen here where they were moved to the HC-130.

The survivors suffered cuts, contusions, bruises and possibly some broken bones.

The aircraft arrived at Kulis ANGB where the patients were taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

An Alaska State Trooper arranged for a civilian helicopter to go to the scene of the crash and remove the remains of the deceased.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.



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