Two dead after floatplane crashes near Annette Island

A Taquan Beaver is towed to shore after crashing into the water near Metlakatla. Both people on board were killed. (Photo by Thomas R. Leask)

Two people are dead after a DeHavilland Beaver operated by Taquan Air went down near Metlakatla about 4 p.m. Monday.

The pilot and one passenger were the only people on board the plane. They will not be identified until next of kin have been notified. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

According to a Joint Information Center news release, a seine boat was first on scene for Monday’s crash, followed by members of the Metlakatla Volunteer Fire Department. Other responders included the U.S. Coast Guard, Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad and good Samaritans.

Metlakatla resident Lindarae Shearer said she heard about the crash from her husband, who called her shortly after 4 p.m.

“(He) told me that a plane had flipped over in the bay here,” she said. “That’s… in our waters, within our borders. It went down in the waters of Annette Island.”

Metlakatla is on Annette Island, Alaska’s only Native reserve. Annette is a quick plane or ferry trip from Ketchikan.

Shearer said the local response was immediate.

“The police were there in full force,” she said. “All the medical EMTs were down there at the floats, waiting for people to be brought ashore.”

Shearer said she didn’t see the incident happen, but she watched the rescue efforts.

“I could see that the plane was upside down. The pontoons were sticking up out of the water,” she said. “There were boats around it. I guess they were trying to rescue people.”

Shearer runs a lodging business, and said one of the people on board was going to stay with her for three nights.

She said the community is grief-stricken by the accident.

“We all feel this,” Shearer said. “The first thing that we feel is for the families of the people that this tragedy happened to.”   

This accident comes exactly a week after a fatal mid-air collision involving a Taquan Air Otter and a Mountain Air Service Beaver, both providing flightseeing tours. In that crash, six people died and 10 survived.

Taquan initially suspended all flights following the May 13 crash, but later resumed regular and charter service between communities.