Update: (2:30 pm EDT) Good news: Keith Cowing at NASA Watch reports that according to a family source both Sean O’Keefe and his son
Jonathan Kevin survived the plane crash but they are both rather banged up. Unfortunately, former Sen. Stevens was killed.
Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe was on board a plane believed to be carrying nine people that crashed in Southwest Alaska late Monday, August 9. Rescue crews were trying to reach the wreckage early this morning, and the National Transportation Safety Board told the Associated Press that five of the nine people aboard the plane are believed to have been killed. Former U.S. senator Ted Stevens was also believed to be on board. CNN also reported that five people were killed and two were seriously injured.
Rescue crews were trying to reach the wreckage early Tuesday, but were hampered by bad weather, the AP reported. A National Transportation Safety Board investigative team has been dispatched from Washington.
The Anchorage Daily News was the first to report that friends of Stevens, 86, think he was aboard the aircraft. The friends said Stevens had been planning to visit a lodge owned by the same telecommunications company that owned the small plane, the newspaper said. It reported that Stevens’s wife was with a longtime family friend, trying to confirm Stevens’ whereabouts.
O’Keefe, 54, was NASA’s tenth administrator and served from December 2001 to February 2005. His tenure was marked by a mix of triumph and tragedy, ranging from the tremendous success of the Mars Exploration Rovers to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. He currently is the chief executive of defense contractor EADS North America. A spokesman for EADS said O’Keefe was a passenger on the plane, but added that no further information about O’Keefe’s status was available.
Keith Cowing at NASAWatch reported that O’Keefe’s son was with him on the plane.
The National Guard was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham at about 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane, but severe weather has hampered search and rescue efforts.
The National Weather Service reported rain and fog at Dillingham, with low clouds and limited visibility early Tuesday.
Conditions ranged from visibility of about 10 miles reported at Dillingham shortly before 7 p.m. Monday to 3 miles, with rain and fog, reported about an hour later, according to the agency.
The aircraft is a 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter.
Reports say there were people who were on the scene — “good Samaratans” — helping the crash victims.
We’ll provide more information as it becomes available.