San Diego resident among dead in Alaska mid-air collision, officials say

Evarado Alatorre
May 16, 2019

Coast Guard officials say they were 14 Americans, one Canadian and one Australian. After operating surface and air searches around the clock for more than 27 hours across 93 square nautical miles, the two people were found deceased which had brought the total death toll to six. "For the folks we're looking for, the challenge that they're dealing with is cold water".

All of the planes' passengers arrived in Ketchikan on the cruise ship Royal Princess during a seven-day trip between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska, Princess Cruises said.

"This is not the outcome we hoped for", said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Stephen White, offering the searchers' condolences to the families of the dead.

Cindy Cicchetti, a passenger on the Royal Princess cruise ship told the AP that the ship captain announced that two planes were in an accident Monday.

Betty Hill, a passenger now on the Royal Princess from California, said the news was announced to cruise passengers around 6:30 p.m. Monday. Nine passengers and the pilot were rescued. In Ketchikan Medical Center, three are in good condition and three have been discharged. The flight was returning from a Misty Fjords tour carrying 10 people from Royal Princess and a pilot. It was operated by Mountain Air Service, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said. He said the plane's tail and section of the fuselage were 900 feet (275 meters) from the aircraft's floats, which landed near shore.

It's unclear which plane carried the fourth victim, whose body was recovered during a Monday night search, said Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, a Coast Guard spokesman.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau is actively coordinating the search with the US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Ketchikan Fire Department, Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Alaska State Troopers and TEMSCO Aviation.

"This is not the outcome we hoped for and extend our deepest sympathies during this very hard time".

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"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families", Taquan said in a statement.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the collision, which happened around 1 pm local time.

The cause of the tragedy is now under investigation.

"The worst-case scenario is they were coming straight at each other and hit head on".

Ketchikan-based Taquan Air operated the Otter, with 10 passengers and the pilot, while the company flying the Beaver has not yet been identified.

The aircrafts involved were a Beaver floatplane and an Otter floatplane.

Neither of the planes had cockpit voice recorders or flight data recorders because they were not required to. Neither plane was required by regulation to have such recorders, she said.

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