Authorities identify 2 people killed in Wrangell-St. Elias plane crash

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers have identified two people killed in last week’s crash of a small plane in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Pilot Christopher Maize, 45, of Anchorage and Glennallen and 36-year-old Andrew Broders of Washington state died in the Feb. 4 crash, authorities said.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was notified just when an emergency locator transmitter was activated in the Cessna 185.

The aircraft, which also carried U.S. mail, was flying from Gulkana to McCarthy. The plane fell in a remote, forested area about 13 miles northeast of Chitina.

Rescue center personnel flew to the area on the day of the crash and confirmed no one survived.

In an online fundraiser, Maize was described by friends as “a gentle, kind and humble man who was a diligent and careful pilot who loved sharing Alaska and the National Park with visitors.”

The National Transportation Safety Board said the single-engine propeller plane was on a flight operated by Copper Valley Air Service.

Clint Johnson, the agency’s Alaska chief, said early findings indicate the plane may have broken up during flight.

The main fuselage landed in one location and the tail and other debris were found about 200 yards away, Johnson said.

Midair breakups are unusual and often involve flights in bad weather. Investigators are considering the weather at the time of the crash, which was cold but did not immediately appear to be a factor, Johnson said.

A structural engineer and an Alaska-based investigator were expected to travel to the site in Wrangell-St. Elias, the largest U.S. national park, spanning more than 20,300 square miles.

The wreckage will be recovered for examination, Johnson said.

Copper Valley Air Service is a family-owned business specializing in sightseeing flights, air taxi and charter services and backcountry or hunting transport, the company’s website said.