Maryland man confirmed dead after Tutka Bay plane crash

 Boats respond to the scene of a float plane crash in Tutka Bay (Photo from anonymous viewer)
Boats respond to the scene of a float plane crash in Tutka Bay (Photo from anonymous viewer) (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 19, 2019 at 11:26 AM AKDT
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The South Peninsula Hospital in Homer says that one person has been confirmed dead after a float plane crash in Tutka Bay.

The Alaska State Troopers identified the man as 57-year-old Joseph Patenella from Maryland.

The hospital reports that a family, including a father, mother, and three children were on board the plane, as well as another adult male relative. Patenella was pronounced deceased when he arrived at the hospital.

According to dispatch recordings from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, the man was being administered CPR at about 10:30 a.m. due to "unknown injuries" as he was being transported on a boat from Tutka Bay to Homer.

The mother and two children were flown to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage, while another child was treated and released in Homer. One of the children medevacked to Anchorage is in "critical condition," according to troopers.

The pilot, identified as Engjell Berisha, unrelated to the other passengers, was treated and released.

The adult male relative is in stable condition at the South Peninsula Hospital.

The Coast Guard says that the plane involved was a De Havilland Beaver operated by Rust's Flying Service that aborted its take-off. Photos show that the plane overturned and was lying floats up in the water.

Rust's Flying Service and Tutka Bay Lodge put out a joint statement on Friday evening saying that they are suspending operations:

“We are devastated by the news of the loss of life suffered in this incident. Our hearts go out to our guests and their family. Our focus is on assisting our guests, their family and loved ones, the pilot, our staffs and first responders during this active crisis response. We’d also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the first responders, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, Anchor Point Emergency Services, Kachemak Emergency Services and the community of Homer for their support and rescue efforts,” they say in the release.

The Coast Guard says the Tutka Bay Lodge manager told them the plane didn’t even leave the water.

The Coast Guard says a Good Samaritan ship picked up the passengers before officials responded.

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