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NTSB public board meeting scheduled for fatal 2019 plane collision near Ketchikan

NTSB investigator Clint Crookshanks and member Jennifer Homendy near the site of some of the...
NTSB investigator Clint Crookshanks and member Jennifer Homendy near the site of some of the wreckage of the DHC-2 Beaver that was involved in a midair collision near Ketchikan, Alaska, on May 13, 2019. (NTSB Photo by Peter Knudson)(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:03 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public board meeting next week to determine the probable cause of the deadly midair crash between two Alaska floatplanes in May 2019, which left multiple people dead or seriously injured.

The safety board announced Thursday morning that the five-member board is meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. EST to vote on the findings, probable cause, recommendations and changes to the final draft report.

The announcement said the board meeting for this crash will be webcast to the public, with the board members and investigative staff meeting virtually. A link to the webcast will be available on the NTSB website before the meeting begins.

The fatal crash under investigation dates back to May 13, 2019, which involves the collision of a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter. The crash occurred midair about 8 miles northeast of Ketchikan.

The crash resulted in the death of the DHC-2 pilot and five passengers between the two planes. Nine other passengers were seriously injured and the DHC-3 pilot suffered minor injuries.

According to a previous Alaska’s News Source article, the pilot who survived the crash told NTSB that the flight was normal. He said he was maneuvering the airplane to show passengers a waterfall near Mahoney Lake when the crash happened.

Most of the wreckage from the DHC-3 was found 80 feet underwater, about 400 feet off the east shore. The plane’s floats were separated and found tied to a tree by rescue personnel about 65 feet north of the main wreckage.

The report states that the DHC-2 airplane broke apart in-flight after the collision, and the wreckage was scattered over the water and mountainside. The main wreckage - the floats, engine, firewall, instrument panel, lower fuselage structure and right fuselage structure - was found near the mouth of Mahoney Creek. The debris field was about 2,000 feet long by about 1,000 feet wide.

Examination of the wreckage showed the right-wing had several mechanical cuts in it, with each cut penetrating further inboard and forward onto the wing structure. The cuts were consistent with impacts from propeller blades.

Those killed were 46-year-old Louis Botha of San Diego; 56-year-old Simon Bodie from Tempe, New South Wales, Australia; 62-year-old Cassandra Webb from St. Louis; 39-year-old Ryan Wilk from Utah; 37-year-old Elsa Wilk of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada; and 46-year-old Randy Sullivan of Ketchikan.

Editor’s note: Information from the previous Alaska’s News Source article can be found in a pdf link attached to this May 22, 2019, NTSB press release.

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