Good Samaritans rescue survivors in Alaskan plane crash that killed Ted Stevens

by nph | August 16th, 2010

A deadly plane crash in Alaska left five dead, including former Sen. Ted Stevens, but according to National Guardsmen, without the help of four Good Samaritan volunteers the death toll would have been much higher.

En route to a fishing camp on Monday, August 9, 2010, the plane went down in the wilderness. After the crash was discovered, two emergency medical technicians, a doctor, and a nurse, were dropped into the area by aircraft. The volunteers hiked more than 1,000 feet to reach the survivors.

According to an ABC News article, once the volunteers reached the crash site, they found survivors suffering from broken bones and suspected internal injuries. The rescue group performed emergency treatments and stayed with the wounded overnight.

Communication Breakdown

Though the selfless efforts of the volunteer group likely saved the lives of the injured, The New York Times reported that the search may have been delayed by hours due to communication breakdowns on the ground and a problem with the plane’s emergency beacon.

It is unclear exactly what time the plane took off or crashed, and it is unclear whether the plane had an emergency locator transmitter that failed or if the plane lacked the equipment, but no signal was received to alert authorities about the crash.

If not for the call of a GCI (the company that owns both the hunting lodge and fishing camp where the group was traveling between) employee calling a Federal Aviation Administration office in Alaska to inquire about the aircraft, which never reached the fishing camp where it was scheduled to arrive, the search may have been delayed even longer.

The exact cause of the crash is still unknown; however, rain and fog with low clouds and limited visibility were reported. National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on the case.

Sources:

“Communication problems may have delayed search following Alaska plane crash.” Wald, Matthew.
The New York Times. August 2010. Accessed on 08/13/2010.

“Ted Stevens dies in plane crash, Samaritans helped save survivors.” Ferran, Lee, et.al. ABC News.
August 2010. Accessed on 08/13/2010.