Searchers recover two missing from mid-air collision

One of two planes involved in Monday’s mid-air collision in Ketchikan’s George Inlet area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Six people are confirmed dead from a mid-air plane collision Monday near Ketchikan and crews recovered the final two on Tuesday evening.

Five survivors are being treated at the hospital in Ketchikan and one has been released. Four other survivors were medevacked to Seattle.

The plane crash happened a little before 1 p.m. Monday as the two tour planes returned from trips to Misty Fjords National Monument.

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center’s Dr. Peter Rice said that’s when local medical responders were notified to prepare for incoming victims. Those victims started arriving about an hour later.

“In total, we received 10 patients,” Rice said. “Three were ultimately determined to be in serious condition, and seven in fair condition.”

That evening, four of the patients were stabilized and air-lifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a Level-1 trauma center.

Rice said the hospital has trained for this kind of emergency. But, he said, everyone is affected by the crash.

“Our entire medical staff is profoundly saddened by this tragic accident,” Rice said. “Our hearts are heavy for those families that lost a loved one in the accident. We send our deepest condolences.”

Harborview confirmed four of the patients were transferred there. Of those patients, a 67-year-old man is in serious intensive care. In satisfactory condition are a 63-year-old woman, a 61-year-old woman and a 61-year-old man.

Injuries include broken ribs, pelvis, arm and spine.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 14 of the people on board the two small floatplanes were American, one Canadian and one Australian.

Jerry Kiffer of Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad said Tuesday morning that ground crews were searching on shore for the missing two people, and divers were searching in the water.

“We’ve got a search dog in the area. The search dog is going to go over the debris field as well,” Kiffer said. “And we’re going to expand our shoreline searches to include some data that we received from the Coast Guard.”

That data involves tides and currents that could move people further away from the accident site.

About 150 Ketchikan residents gathered at noon Tuesday in front of the hospital to pray for those involved in the plane crash. Organizer Rhonda Bolling said it’s way for locals to show they care.

“If we can get together and pray for all of those – for our family here in Ketchikan that was affected, for the tour operators, for the victims, and the tragic losses of life and their families,” she said. “We just want to show our love and support and encouragement, and ask God to rain down on this community and all involved.”

Prayers went out to the victims, their families, emergency responders and search crews.

This story and headline have been updated to reflect that all passengers or bodies have been found.