Yute Commuter Service has released the name of the pilot killed in a plane accident on Thursday, Feb. 6, along the lower Kuskokwim River that also killed four passengers. The pilot, Tony Matthews, was flying a Piper PA-32R from Bethel to Kipnuk that crashed about 11 miles southwest of Tuntutuliak.
“He was a great, great person,” said Yute Commuter Service General Manager Nathan McCabe about pilot Matthews.
“It’s very unfortunate. The guy was a very happy, enthusiastic person. All I can say, to be honest with you, is he’s a great man, happy, a great worker. I couldn’t ask for anyone better,” McCabe said.
McCabe also issued a statement from Yute in response to the accident:
“On Thursday at approximately at 11 a.m., a Yute Commuter Service Piper PA-32R tail number N7632C, crashed about 11 miles west of Tuntutuliak while in route to Kipnuk and Chefornak, resulting in five casualties: the pilot Tony Matthews and four passengers. The names of the passengers are being withheld until the notification of their next of kin. The cause of the accident is unknown at this time. The NTSB will conduct a full and thorough investigation. Yute Commuter Service offers our deepest condolences of the families of those lost in this unfortunate event. We will be closed on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. Yute Commuter Service is committed to do everything possible to provide safe and reliable air travel within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.”
McCabe says Yute is offering counseling to its staff and gave workers the day off on Friday.
“We told them to please take the day, so they could gather their thoughts. It impacted our community very, very strongly,” said McCabe.
McCabe says his office is gathering information to give to the National Transportation Safety Board so they can investigate the crash. He says all Yute planes have been grounded since news of the accident, and he did not state when the airline would resume flights.
The names of the four deceased passengers have not been released.