Former NASA Administrator O’Keefe in Alaska Plane Crash


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.

12 Replies to “Former NASA Administrator O’Keefe in Alaska Plane Crash”

  1. Just read an AP line that said Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe survived that crash… but unfortunately Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens died in the plane crash…

  2. As you may recall, Sen. Stevens quit as a US senator after being investigated for financial shinanigans while in office. Like, having his house remodeled to the tune of $200K and taking other bribes in exchange for political favor. As a Republican, he was a strong supporter of continued oil drilling, and attempted to reopen ANWAR against the wishes of many environmental groups… baaad Karma? Sheesh… way bad~

  3. Oops… he didn’t exactly quit…. “Stevens’ standing in Alaska was toppled by corruption allegations and a federal trial in 2008. He was convicted of all seven counts — and narrowly lost his Senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich in the election the following week.

    But five months after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder sought to dismiss the indictment against Stevens and not proceed with a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct by federal prosecutors.”

    From Yahoo news:

  4. Sheesh… just read where Sen. Stevens first wife was killed in another plane crash back in the 70’s. Not karma… but Alaskan weather!

  5. @AQUA:

    I, like you, was not a supporter of Senator Steven’s political stances, but c’mon, have a bit of class and sympathy for his family. I really thought you were better than this. Disgraceful.

  6. Karma, like punishment, should fit the crime. I think karma and crime are quite asymmetrical in this case.

  7. This is my FIRST time reply too this site. But first ,I have enjoyed threw the year reading All the Topix and also reading the replies. But today I finally decided to leave my reply. I beleave that Death and tragity are a way of life,but hearing the foolish negativity here steps over the line. Even if I didn’t agree on the way these top personalities did thier work, there is famililes who needs prayer and comfort. And also there is thanksgiving for those who survived this crash. We should also be thankfull that there are people on the ground trying their best to rescue these folks.

  8. Ahem… I am sorry if I offended anyone’s emotional sensibilities with my statements. Actually I don’t think I said anything particularly disgraceful. What’s disgraceful is how then Senator Stevens absconded with public funds to build that ‘bridge to nowhere’, have his house remodeled and several other illegal usages of PUBLIC FUNDS. I ask you to think about those who might have benefited from the money he pilfered for profit… say, underfed infants, those indigents with health issues or financial woes and who had placed their trust in his public office! His son Ben also has had some rather ‘seedy’ dealings while in office – like father like son? In fact, were the laws of the land strictly adhered to Senator Stevens would NOT have been in that plane crash… he would have been in prison.

  9. @AQUA:

    Thank you for responding. Perhaps I was a bit harsh, but it bothers me when someone makes sarcastic comments when discussing someone’s death. No matter how much I may detest a person’s actions and policies, to me demeaning their passing is off limits…..maybe it’s just me. Much of what you say about Senator Steven’s history is true and abhorrent in my view, but I just ask for a bit of respect in the immediate aftermath of his death.

  10. Believe me when I say… life is precious. Perhaps it is that preciousness that I find sacred and when , as the prodigal returns to his father’s house, so must we return, not with a morbid mind… “Now is the time to awake out of sleep.”

    Eph. 6:12 Wickedness in high places means an inverted use of the law of righteousness, the misuse of the powers of the mind. The mental law is neutral, plastic, receptive and creative. There is a right and wrong use of this law, just as there is a right and wrong use of any other law.

    And so it is…

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