Alaska State Troopers say they believe pilot Seth Fairbanks made an emergency call with a Satellite phone when his Supercub crashed into Cook Inlet around midnight August 6. They also say their investigation reveals he called the non-emergency number for the Alaska State Trooper Post in Bethel, not 9-1-1.
As of July 1st, after-hour phone calls in the Bethel region are automatically routed to the Alaska State Trooper dispatch center in Fairbanks. Fairbanks dispatch center received the call and it lasted approximately 69 seconds before the call dropped off, say troopers.
No other calls were made from the satellite phone, according to Troopers. There was no caller identification or number for a call back.
A minute after the initial call, the Fairbanks trooper dispatch contacted a Wasilla Police Department dispatch center. They called troopers and tried to confirm some information. Seven minutes after the call, at two minutes past midnight, they called the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) who rerouted C-17 aircraft. RCC also contacted a helicopter crew to prepare for a flight, which launched at approximately 1:18 a.m.
Troopers launched an investigation into the initial call after receiving scrutiny about the timeline of the call and response.
Twenty-nine-year-old Fairbanks, and 23-year-old Anthony Hooper, both of McGrath, are still missing and presumed dead. The two men were on their way to a wedding reception in Anchorage from McGrath.
A service for Fairbanks is set for Bethel today [Friday 8/14].