[This post continues to update as new information becomes available. Please scroll down or refresh for the latest information.]
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the family of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is concerned that he may have been on-board a GCI-owned plane that reportedly crashed near Dillingham, Alaska. Stevens was on his way to the GCI-owned Agulowak Lodge near Lake Aleknagik.The Alaska Air National Guard, the Alaska State Police and NTSB are all reportedly en route to the scene of the crash, and hoped to arrive at the scene nearly four hours ago. The plane was reportedly carrying up to 8 passengers and rescue teams are expecting fatalities; local NBC affiliate KTUU reports that the Air National Guard first received word of the crash at 7:00 pm local (11:00 pm EST) time.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Air National Guard told them that there were 5 “Good Samaritans” on the scene before rescue forces arrived. Rescue efforts were hampered by inclement weather. ABC News reports that, as of 7:00 am EST, Alaska Air National Guard crews had still not reached the site.
Update (9:25 ET): Megan Peters, spokesman for AK State Troopers, told TPM, “They [rescue crews] have been aggressively trying to get to the scene,” but have also been prevented because of weather conditions. She added, “We have very skilled, very well trained, the best of the best up here for search and rescue … they haven’t been able to make it yet.” To her knowledge, the only people on the scene are those involved in the crash and the Good Samaritans attempting to assist.
Update (9:53 ET): The Associated Press reports that an anonymous federal official confirms that the government believes Ted Stevens was on board the plane. MSNBC reported that former NASA Administrator and current EADS CEO Sean O’Keefe was also on board, according to EADS officials.
Update (10:10 ET): Reuters reports that a congressional source confirmed to them that Stevens was on the plane and that about half the people on board did not survive. CNN reports that 5 people have died. TPMDC confirmed with the U.S. Coast Guard that they are backing up the rescue efforts led by the Air Force 11th Rescue Coordination Center, a joint DOD and state response center manned by Alaska National Guardsmen. Officials know where the crash site is, and the Coast Guard is using a C-130 propeller plane and a helicopter to access the site. The spokesman added, “The people are not alone.”
Update (10:17 ET): The NTSB issued a statement about the crash.
At about 8:00 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time, a DeHavilland DHC-3T (N455A) crashed 10 miles northwest of Aleknagik, Alaska. Reports are that 5 of the 9 persons on board died in the accident.
Update (11:01 ET): Reuters now reports a congressional source told them that Stevens was “on a fishing trip in Alaska with former members of his staff and their family.” Politico reports that lobbyist Jim Morhard, former chief of staff for the Appropriations Committee, was also there; TPMDC confirmed this with Katherine Hennessey Gronberg, a VP of Morhard & Associates, who had no information about his condition. EADS has issued an official statement confirming that O’Keefe was among the passengers.
Update (11:29 ET): The Anchorage Daily News reports that a DC-based government official was told by the Alaska Air National Guard that a private medical team made it to the crash site on Tuesday morning. CNN reports that the Alaska office of the FAA told them that there are 4 survivors of the crash: 2 with serious injuries and 2 with minor injuries.
Update (11:42 ET): TPMDC spoke with Allen Kenitzer of the Alaskan regional office of the FAA, who told us that there are either 8 or 9 people on board, but “those numbers are still fuzzy … we’re just saying ‘several fatalities.'” He confirmed that some of the injuries of the survivors are minor, while other are major.
Update (12:16 ET): The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Alaska Air National Guard rescue personnel reached the scene of the accident this morning.
Update (12:22 ET): In a phone interview with Fox News, Major Guy Hayes, the Air National Guard spokesman, confirmed that the Good Samaritans hiked to the crash site last night to provide assistance and that the Alaska Air National Guard and Coast Guard arrived about an hour ago to the crash site. They have treated at least two people, who will be brought to Dillingham for further medical assistance.
Update (12:25 ET): Local NBC affiliate KTUU reports that Dave Dittman, “a former aide and longtime family friend of former Sen. Ted Stevens,” confirmed to them that Stevens is among the dead.
Update (12:33 ET): The spokeswoman for the Air National Guard confirmed to TPMDC that, “the weather is pretty bad out there” and that they are continuing to treat the survivors at the scene until they can transport them to a hospital.
Update (12:40 ET): Fox News reports that a witness to the crash site told them that the plane appeared to have flown directly into the side of a mountain 1,000 feet up; visibility was reportedly hampered by clouds, rain and fog.
Update (1:05 ET):: Alaska Air National Guard spokesman Major Guy Hayes confirmed to TPMDC that they are working with the Coast Guard to bring in either an Alaska ANG helicopter or a Coast Guard helicopter to evacuate the injured “once they are stabilized,” adding, “As of 30 minutes ago, the information that I received is that two people were provided medical support.”
Update (1:45 ET): Dittman now tells local NBC affiliate KTUU that he received an as-yet unconfirmed call informing him of Stevens’ death, but that he has received no other confirmation of that.
Update (2:02 ET): MSNBC reports that the Alaska Air National Guard flew three injured people from the crash site to receive medical care in Anchorage.
Update (2:35 ET): Stevens family spokesperson Mitch Rose told The Associated Press that the family had been notified that Stevens was among those killed in the crash.
With reporting by Rachel Slajda