The plane that crashed into an Alaskan mountainside and killed former Sen. Ted Stevens and four others was outfitted with an alert system that warned pilots of dangerous terrain. But National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairwoman Deborah Hersman said Friday that it’s not known if the system was working just before the plane crashed on August 9.
The plane was also equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, Hersman said, which is designed to issue a distress signal to a control center via satellites and provide registration information, such as the owner’s name. She added that it was unclear why that signal didn’t activate.
The five victims died from blunt-force trauma, state medical examiner Dr. Katherine Raven said. Four individuals survived, and investigators interviewed two of them on Friday. Hersman said one of the survivors described Monday’s crash by saying: “[We] were flying along, and [we] just stopped flying.”
The same survivor said he didn’t notice any changes in the plane’s pitch or hear any unusual engine sounds right before the plane went down near Aleknagik, about 20 miles north of Dillingham, in southwest Alaska. Former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe, his son, Kevin O’Keefe, lobbyist Jim Morhard and lobbyist William Phillips Jr. lived through the accident.
Also killed: Pilot Theron Smith, General Communications Inc. executive Dana Tindall, Tindall’s 16-year-old daughter, Corey, and William Phillips Sr., who had worked with Stevens in Washington.