Wire across Matanuska River draws safety concern from pilots
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A Palmer man died after a Thursday afternoon plane crash into the frigid waters of the Matanuska River near Chickaloon.
Joshua Seagrave, a 46-year-old who was flying the aircraft, died at the scene. He was the only person in the plane that went down after flying into a heavy-gauge steel wire stretched across the river.
“The airplane, from what the witness is saying, broke up in flight after colliding with the wire,” said National Transportation Safety Board Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson.
Investigators with the safety board at the scene said they believe that Seagrave may have been flying about 30 feet above the water when his plane collided with the wire.
“At this point, I need to stress that it’s very much at the preliminary stages. Again, we are going to give the family and the friends a little bit of space, regroup next week, and we should have some more answers,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that over the course of his 25 years with the NTSB, he has investigated a handful of wire-related crashes. However, they are not common accidents in the area. In this particular case, many pilots have since reached out to express their concerns regarding the wire.
“We were not aware that the wire was there,” Johnson said. “Since the accident has taken place and it hit social media, there’s been a number of pilots that have come forward basically saying that they were concerned with the wire there before.”
According to Foreflight, an electronic maps service used for aviation, no wires were labeled in the area of the crash. NTSB said the wire will be one of the main focuses of their investigation.
“So we are going to be working very closely with the FAA on this case,” Johnson said. “That’s one of the things we are going to be looking at next week and as the investigation continues is should the wire have been marked. Was it marked on the maps? So that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing is looking at that specific wire and if it should’ve been marked.”
Johnson said that the NTSB should have a preliminary report in approximately two weeks.
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