No survivors in North Slope helicopter crash

No survivors were found after a helicopter crashed on Alaska’s North Slope Thursday night
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 12:29 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2023 at 9:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - No survivors were found after a helicopter crashed on Alaska’s North Slope Thursday night, according to officials with the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to Alaska NTSB Chief Clint Johnson, four people were onboard a Bell 206L-4 craft operating out of Maritime Helicopters in Homer, a private charter company. Johnson said the helicopter was returning to Utqiagvik from a mission, although it was unclear where it was coming from.

On Friday afternoon, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources confirmed that three Division of Geological and Geophysical Survey employees conducting field work near Utqiagvik did not check in on Thursday night as previously planned.

“The Alaska Department of Natural Resources initiated a search and rescue effort last night through the North Slope Borough Department of Search and Rescue in coordination with the Alaska Department of Public Safety,” a post on the DNR’s Facebook page said. “DNR has been informed that the search and rescue effort found helicopter debris in a lake matching the description of the overdue aircraft, and the National Transportation Safety Board reports they are investigating the crash of a helicopter near Utqiagvik. At this time we do not have any additional information to share. DNR is praying for our employees and the pilot, their families, and the DNR team. We are continuing to await updates from the search and rescue effort.”

North Slope Search and Rescue crews found the downed helicopter partially submerged in a shallow lake approximately 51 miles southwest of Utqiagvik, according to Johnson.

Johnson said Maritime Helicopters lost contact via an electronic tracking system around 7 or 8 p.m. Thursday, which prompted an overdue call.

DJ Fauske, North Slope Borough director of external affairs, said the search team was alerted of the overdue helicopter around 11:20 p.m. Thursday, which he said was between the villages of Wainwright and Atqasuk.

Fauske said North Slope Borough Search and Rescue is investigating with help from the NTSB, and also notified the Federal Aviation Administration, the borough police department, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and Alaska State Troopers of the crash.

This story has been updated with additional information.