Plane Crashes Near Merrill Field Claims Life

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

A single-engine plane crashed on takeoff from Merrill Field in Anchorage yesterday and at least one died in the resulting fire.  The plane was faltering and clipped the top of a motel, crossed the highway, and smashed into an unused car dealership.  People ran to the crash and managed to pull out four people before the plane ignited.  One child could not be retrieved.  Hospitalized were Preston Cavner, his wife, Stacie, their two-year-old son Hudson and Rachel Ziempak, age 16, of Texas.  A second son, Miles, age 4, died in the wreck.

The Cavners were flown to a hospital in Portland.  Ziempak was taken to Harborview in Seattle. People brought fire extinguishers from nearby buildings, but could only hold off a fire for a short time. It consumed much of the building the plane hit. The Cavners are involved in a lodge on Lake Clark.  The plane flies out of Port Alsworth.