Former state lawmaker Cheryll Heinze, 65, died Wednesday morning following a plane crash Tuesday night in Homer, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Troopers said calls came in around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday of a plane crash at Beluga Lake in Homer and that Homer Police and Fire Departments and rescued all on board.
Five people were on board the Cessna 206 that crashed, according to Clint Johnson with the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to preliminary information from Ian Gregor, a communications manager with the Federal Aviation Administration's Western-Pacific Region, the Cessna flipped while landing on Beluga Lake at about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The four survivors of the crash reportedly suffered non-life-threatening hypothermia.
Matanuska Electric Association spokesperson Kevin Brown -- who worked for Heinze, a three-year employee of the electric co-op and its director of human resources and public affairs -- said MEA general manager Evan "Joe" Griffith, 71, owned and piloted the floatplane which crashed while landing at Beluga Lake. Brown wouldn't yet release the names of the other three passengers, but confirmed that they were also MEA employees.
Brown described the plane's occupants as a tight-knit group who departed on the Cessna Tuesday night for a one-day fishing trip. He said Griffith was doing well and that three of the four survivors had been treated and released with minor injuries, while one was hospitalized in Anchorage.
Heinze was an Anchorage member of the state House from 2003 to 2004. Friends and colleagues of Heinze say it is a somber day for Alaska.
Sen. Lesil McGuire, who worked alongside Heinze during her time in the legislature, says state energy issues was one of her passions. She describes Heinze as a visionary spirit with a heart for people.
"Cheryll was one of those people that always knew the age of your children, knew their interests and passions, knew the name of your family dog. So I would say her first passion was people and that is what made her so special," says McGuire.
Heinze was also a professional artist and enjoyed painting Alaska's grand landscapes. Friends say she gave some of her art away and there are a few pieces displayed around Anchorage.
"She painted big things, she painted mountains. Her favorite mountain was Denali and she has many, many paintings out there- big canvases of Denali. I like to remember her that way," says Scott Heyworth, friend and Chairman of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority (ANGDA).
Heinze's husband Harold is a former CEO of ANGDA and joined MEA earlier this year. Both Harold and Cheryll were active in the community.
"There isn't anybody in this state that can match the very unique talents that she had so she will be very dearly missed," says McGuire.
KTUU's Neil Torquiano also contributed to this story.