A family spokesman for Ted Stevens confirmed that the former U.S. Senator did not survive the plane crash in Alaska on Monday. The aircraft, owned by Alaskan cable and telecommunications company GCI,
went down in a remote area of the state Monday night with nine people on board, reports say.
According to The Wall Street Journal and the Associated
Press, the 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter aircraft crashed near
Dillingham, a town in northern Bristol Bay, about 325 miles southwest of
Anchorage. Five of the nine people on the plane were believed dead.
The plane was en route to a fishing lodge, also owned by GCI, near Lake Aleknagik, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
GCI CEO Ronald Duncan said in a statement
on the company Web site: "Yesterday, an aircraft owned by GCI went down
north of Dillingham, Alaska. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the
State Troopers, the Coast Guard, and other rescue units are responding
to the crash, as is the National Transportation Safety Board. We are
aware of news reports stating that four of the nine individuals on board
the aircraft have survived. At this point, I cannot confirm or comment
on these reports. We are waiting for authoritative reports from the
rescue units. All of our energies are focused on working with the rescue
units and mobilizing to support the families and friends of the
individuals on the aircraft."
Earlier today, the Stevens family issued the following statement:
"The Ted Stevens family offers their prayers for all of those on
board and for their familes," they said in a statement. "We thank the
brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to
work with the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska
State Troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers."
According to reports, also among the plane's occupants was former
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, currently chief executive of the U.S.
division of European defense contractor EADS North America.
According to a statement by the National Transportation Safety Board,
an NTSB team was being dispatched to the site early Tuesday morning to
investigate the crash. According to reports, the identities of the
victims were being held pending notification of next of kin.
Personnel from the National Guard were dispatched to the scene last
night but were battling inclement weather, a report on the Anchorage
Daily News Web site stated. However, the paper said that a private
medical team was dropped to the site of the crash by helicopter to
assist the survivors.
GCI is the largest cable and telephone company in Alaska. It could
not be determined if any GCI executives were aboard the flight. GCI
representatives could not be reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.
The former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce
Committee, Stevens had been a key figure in digital-TV-transition
legislation, the network-neutrality debate, and the push for the Federal
Communications Commission's crackdown on indecency.
He was forced out of his chairmanship, and ultimately lost his bid
for reelection, after his conviction for failing to report on disclosure
forms work done on his house by an oil services company with business
before the committee that he once chaired.
Stevens maintained his innocence, vowed to fight the charges and
stayed in the 2008 race, which he lost by only few thousand votes. The
conviction was ultimately overturned.
Stevens had been the longest-serving Republican senator at the time of his exit.