Former Senator Ted Steven killed in Alaska plane crash

According to a CBS News report, Former Senator Ted Stevens was killed in the crash:

Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history who lost his seat after a corruption conviction that was later dismissed, was killed Tuesday in a small plane crash in Alaska. He was 86.

A family friend said Stevens was among five people killed in the crash in southwest Alaska.

In 1978, Stevens survived a Learjet crash in Anchorage that killed five people, including his first wife.

How sad. Prayers go out to his wife, family, and friends.

When the crash was first reported, news reports said that five of the nine people on board were killed. At that time we knew both former Senator Ted Stevens and former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe were on board and that the plane went down north of Dillingham but we didn’t know anything more than that:

A plane carrying nine people – including former Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe – crashed in southwest Alaska, killing five people on board, authorities said Tuesday.

It was unclear whether Stevens or O’Keefe were among the dead.

Reports from officials in Alaska were that nine people were aboard the aircraft and that “it appears that there are five fatalities,” NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz told The Associated Press in Washington.

A U.S. government official told The Associated Press that Alaska authorities have been told that Stevens, a former longtime Republican senator, was on the plane. The official, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, says Stevens’ condition is unknown.

The federal official declined to be publicly identified because the crash response and investigation are under way.

Stevens was one of two survivors in a 1978 plane crash at Anchorage International Airport that killed his wife, Ann, and several others.

Andrew Malcolm of the LA  Times’ Top of the Ticket provided some history:

Former Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe were with seven others aboard a small aircraft that crashed Monday night in southwest Alaska.

Recovery operations were underway by the Alaska National Guard. Initial reports said five of the nine aboard had died. Their identities of the dead and survivors are not known yet.

The rugged wilds of Alaska can be a very dangerous place to fly over in small planes, which many do. Iconic social  commentator and comedian Will Rogers died in a plane crash there in 1935, as did Louisiana Democrat Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., then the House Majority Leader.

The plane carrying Boggs, the father of longtime broadcast commentator Cokie Roberts, disappeared there in 1972 enroute from Anchorage to Juneau to a campaign fundraiser and was never found.

Boggs was declared legally dead in 1973, along with a fellow passenger Rep. Nick Begich. If that last name sounds familiar, it should.That deceased congressman was the father of Mark Begich, a Democratic former Anchorage mayor who now holds Stevens’ Senate seat.

Alaskans regularly fly small planes around the state because much of its over 3 million lakes. Some parts of the Alaska terrain is so rugged that it’s nearly impossible to navigate with a vehicle. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin said on Fox News that Alaska has more licensed private pilots per capita (she cited the statistic of approximately one in every 53 Alaskans is a licensed pilot) than anywhere else in the world, precisely because of the terrain.

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