Villagers rush to aid rural crash survivors

Published 5:35 pm Saturday, November 30, 2013

Residents of a rural Alaska village reached survivors of a commuter plane crash two hours after the aircraft went down in freezing rain, authorities said Saturday.

The pilot and three passengers died in the crash of the single-engine turboprop Cessna 208. At least six passengers were transported for medical treatment. There was no report of fire. Few other details, including the possible cause of the crash in freezing rain, are known, said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson.

“It’s very much in the preliminary stages at this point,” he said.

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The Hageland Aviation flight crashed around 6:30 p.m. 4 miles from Saint Marys and rescuers reached the scene at 8:30 p.m., he said.

Pilot Terry Hansen and passengers Rose Polty, Richard Polty and Wyatt Coffee, an infant, died in the crash, Alaska State Troopers said. The survivors included Melanie Coffee, Pauline Johnson, Kylan Johnson, Tonya Lawrence, Garrett Moses and Shannon Lawrence. Their ages and hometowns were not immediately available

The initial count of people on board was unclear because at least one was a lap child, Johnson said.

Saint Marys, like scores of other Alaska villages, is off the state road system. People routinely use small aircraft to reach regional hubs.