Former Sen. Stevens in Alaska Plane Crash

Posted August 10, 2010 at 8:31am

Updated: 9:53 a.m.

Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has been involved in a plane crash in rural Alaska.

Stevens, 86, was a passenger on a plane owned by Alaska telecommunications company GCI that crashed Monday outside Dillingham, Alaska.

Lisa Sutherland, a former committee staff director for Stevens, sent an e-mail to other former Stevens staffers Tuesday morning saying it is unclear whether Stevens is among the survivors of the crash. Of the eight passengers, half had perished, while there was at least one passenger with serious injuries, Sutherland wrote.

Other passengers on the plane include former Stevens defense appropriations staffer Sean O’Keefe, former Appropriations Committee Staff Director Jim Morhard and Bill Phillips, a lobbyist for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, according to the e-mail. Sutherland said they had been on a fishing trip.

Stevens was en route to a fishing lodge owned by GCI.

Sutherland’s e-mail asked for prayers for the passengers and their families.

Alaska Air National Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes told the Anchorage Daily News that there were survivors and that five “good Samaritans” were on the scene.

“They’re not out there alone right now. There’s people that are providing support. … From what I’m told, there are survivors on this aircraft. I don’t know how many could be fatalities at this point,” Hayes told the paper.

But bad weather conditions were making it difficult for rescuers to make it to the scene.

The wife of Stevens’ friend retired Air Force Gen. Joe Ralston said Ralston was with Stevens’ wife, Catherine, to comfort her.

Stevens was defeated in 2008 by Sen. Mark Begich (D) after Stevens was found guilty of taking illegal gifts as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe. He was eventually cleared after the judge concluded that prosecutors had engaged in misconduct, including hiding evidence.

Stevens was also involved in a 1978 plane crash outside Anchorage Airport. Although he survived, his first wife, Ann, did not.