Authorities Determining Cause of Floatplane Crash

Two Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak helicopter aircrews rescue three people after their float plane crashed in the vicinity of Uganik Lake on Kodiak Island, Alaska, Sept. 9, 2016. Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center received an electronic locator beacon alert from a De Havilland DHC-2 float plane at 12:20 p.m., which prompted the launch of the two rescue helicopters. U.S. Coast Guard video.
Two Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak helicopter aircrews rescue three people after their float plane crashed in the vicinity of Uganik Lake.
U.S. Coast Guard video.

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Details are slowly coming to light surrounding the crash last week of a floatplane flying for Island Air.

According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver took off from the city of Kodiak Friday morning and was headed to Amook Bay and Zachar Bay. The report says it crashed at around 11:30 a.m.

Clint Johnson, Chief of the NTSB Alaska Regional Office, says the crash happened during a scheduled stop at Uganik Lake, which is 35 miles from the city of Kodiak.

“And the reason for that stop was to drop a mechanic off to be able to take a look at another Island Air airplane that was disabled there just temporarily. This accident actually happened on takeoff when they were departing that intermediate stop.”

Johnson says three witnesses described the scene.

“During the departure to the west there were some pretty strong winds, gusty winds, and the airplane eventually took off to the west and towards an area of rising terrain, and basically, as the airplane got a little bit closer to that terrain, it started a gradual turn to the left. That turn steepened, and then unfortunately, the airplane descended nose first into the shallow waters of the lake on the western end there.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were three people on board who all sustained serious, but nonfatal injuries, and Johnson says the Coast Guard medevac’d the victims to Kodiak and then to Anchorage.

A Coast Guard press release, which did not include names, describes a female with leg and spinal injuries and mentions that the two others had a possible broken hip and head trauma. A representative of the Alaska State Troopers writes through email that the victims were pilot David Schleifer and passengers Linda and Steven Suydam, all three of Kodiak.

Johnson says, as far as he knows, they are still at hospitals in Anchorage, and the NTSB intends to interview the pilot when he’s well enough to share his view of the events.

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