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August 10, 2010

Plane Crash Kills Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska

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DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter N455A

Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens was killed early Monday evening when a small plane crashed near the city of Dillingham in Alaska, his family said. The fate of the eight others on board, including former NASA official Sean O’Keefe, was not yet known.

The 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter aircraft went down about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Dillingham on Monday evening, but the exact time of the accident was not immediately known. The Alaska Air National Guard responded to the scene at around 7 p.m. AKDT after another aircraft spotted the wreckage and notified authorities.

Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican, was one of those on board. A spokesman for his family, Mitch Rose, said Stevens had been killed and said his family had been notified.

“The Ted Stevens family offers their prayers for all those on board and for their families,” a written family statement said before his death was confirmed. “We thank the brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to work with the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska state troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers,” it added.

A spokesman for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. (EADS) said its North American CEO, Sean O’Keefe, was also on the aircraft. His condition was not immediately known. “Local authorities are reporting that there are survivors and a rescue operation is underway,” said Guy Hicks, a spokesman for EADS North America.

EADS North American is the North American operation of EADS, an aerospace corporation based in the Dutch city of Leiden. It develops and markets civil and military aircraft, as well as communications system, missiles, space rockets, satellites, and other systems.

Sean O’Keefe, however, is best known as the former Administrator of NASA and led the space agency from December 2001 to February 2005. He also briefly served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy from July 1992 until January 1993.

Major Guy Hayes, a spokesman for the Alaska Air National Guard, said there are fatalities, but also survivors. “From what I’m told, there are survivors on this aircraft. I don’t know how many could be fatalities at this point,” he said.

Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Begich from Alaska said in a brief statement that he was waiting for more information about the accident. “I joint Alaskans and others across the country waiting for details of last night’s tragic plane crash near Dillingham,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with those on board the plane and their families as we wait for more information.”

Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski also released a brief statement with similar remarks. “While we await further information about this tragic accident, I ask Alaskans to join me in prayer for all those aboard the aircraft and their families,” she said.


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