A Cessna 208 caravan was traveling from Quinhagak to Togiak with two Hageland pilots and one passenger on board when it crashed. An emergency locator signal was received just before 1:30. Two state troopers in Dillingham took a helicopter to the scene shortly after. Sgt. Luis Nieves supervises the region.
“When our troopers arrived in the area, they immediately noticed that the location was essentially a mountain, that its peak was in the clouds and they noticed what appeared to be the wing of the aircraft,” Nieves said.
The two troopers landed the helicopter and hiked up the mountain for an hour to get to the wreckage. The debris was scattered over a large area and all three onboard were deceased. What caused the crash has not been determined but Nieves said the troopers on scene suspect how it happened.
“The aircraft apparently hit the mountain at high altitude probably in low visibility is what it appears to be right now,” Nieves said.
A company statement Sunday night said the caravan was flying a Ravn connect route operated by Hageland aviation between Quinhagak and Togiak. The company told authorities that had notified next of kin but state troopers were working to verify that before releasing the names of those killed. NTSB investigators are expected on scene today.
UPDATE: 4:20 p.m.
The Ravn Connect flight, operated by Hageland Aviation, was enroute to Togiak from Quinhagak when it lost contact, and an emergency beacon was received just before 1:30.
The passenger and two pilots died on impact, according to troopers. Some of the wreckage burned after the crash. NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson said the two investigators who arrived on scene Monday are having a hard time recovering the remains and starting their own investigation:
“As far as the condition of the wreckage, very tough shape, ” Johnson said. “Also the location that the wreckage is in is making our investigator’s job very, very difficult.”
More details about Sunday’s crash, including the weather conditions, will likely come in a preliminary report from NTSB next week.
Hageland and Ravn, part of the same parent company, have had numerous accidents over the past several years, including the recent midair collision outside of Russian Mission. Johnson said NTSB takes each accident case by case:
“We don’t really take into account other accidents, and especially in this case,” Johnson said. “The two accidents that our office is handling right now which would be the mid-air in Russian Mission roughly a month ago and this accident. Both of those accidents are being investigated by two separate investigators and at this point right now, both of them are very much still in the preliminary stages”
Hageland Aviation notified the next of kin of the three men killed Sunday, but state authorities have withheld the names pending a separate notification. The family of Louie John of Manokotak, the passenger onboard, was notified Sunday of his death.