Plane crash search suspended at Lake Clark, but investigation continues

 Photo of Lake Clark showing challenging search conditions
Photo of Lake Clark showing challenging search conditions (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 12, 2016 at 10:04 AM AKST
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Midday today, the National Park Service announces that the search for wreckage and victims of a plane crash at Lake Clark is suspended, due to weather.

NPS says items found Thursday and Friday, including plane wheels and a chair, confirm the plane crashed into the lake.

Chief of the Alaska region office of the National Transportation Safety Board, Clint Johnson, says suspension of the search does not change the timeline for the investigation.

"There's still an active investigation going on," says Johnson. "There's still a lot we can glean from an investigation, minus looking at the wreckage."

Johnson says an investigator will rely on information documented before the flight, including weather conditions and the pilot's training and experience.

Soon the NTSB investigator will reach out the family. Johnson says typically investigators try and give families some space before contacting them for information.

A preliminary report on the crash can be expected sometime next week, and a complete report within a year, according to Johnson.

Original Story

Search efforts for the wreckage of a plane carrying three family members from Port Alsworth, and a pilot, continue to be hampered by weather.

Today, Megan Richotte, with Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, said visibility is extremely limited due to "constant ice fog." She says that Saturday boat operations were suspended. Before leaving the area due to fog, Alaska State Troopers were briefly able to do aerial searching by helicopter, on Sunday, according to Richotte.

On Dec. 7, the Piper PA-28 was reported missing, after never arriving in Anchorage from Port Alsworth. Those on board include Scott Blom, 45, his children, Kaitlyn Blom, 14, and Zach Blom, 13, and pilot Kyle Longerbeam, 25.

On Dec. 9, three wheels and a chair from the plane were recovered, according to NPS.

The items and debris recovered on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 confirms that the aircraft crashed in the lake, says Richotte.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash; however, it says until more wreckage is found an investigator will not be sent to the area. NPS and Troopers are assigned to search for wreckage.

The Blom family is from Port Alsworth, and says they were traveling to Anchorage to cheer on the Lynx during a volleyball game. Some Blom family members were aboard a separate plane, which arrived safely in Anchorage, after departing port Alsworth, on Wednesday.