Alaska State Troopers have identified the Anchorage pilot and sole occupant of a small plane killed Thursday night when it crashed near Eureka.
According to a Friday AST dispatch, troopers from the Glennallen post responded to the crash of the aircraft flown by Michael S. Zobel, 41 -- identified by the National Transportation Safety Board as a Cessna 170B -- which took place northwest of Eureka.
"The crash was witnessed and reported by a friend of the pilot," troopers wrote. "Investigation determined (Zobel) was flying his private aircraft in the area near Eureka and crashed for unknown reasons."
Although troopers quickly headed for the area, AST spokesperson Megan Peters says poor weather in the area hindered efforts by a LifeMed air ambulance to reach Zobel, a former trooper from 2002 through 2006.
“By the time LifeMed got out there, the pilot was deceased,” Peters said.
Brice Banning, the lead NTSB investigator on the crash, says he and representatives from Cessna are planning to visit the crash site in the coming days.
“We’re working on the logistics to get out to the site,” Banning said.
Troopers say Zobel's next of kin have been notified. The air ambulance was unable to retrieve his body Thursday, and an AST dispatch Friday afternoon says weather conditions continued to prevent air and ground assets from reaching the site.
A hunting party which witnessed the crash and stayed at the crash site overnight has been authorized to retrieve Zobel's body, which will be sent on to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.
"It's stressful knowing that somebody's life can be on the line while you're trying to help them and sometimes you can't save them all," Peters said. "It's a hard thing for the troopers and for LifeMed, the flight nurses, the whole point of us going out there is to help people- it's hard when we can't."
Channel 2's Samantha Angaiak contributed information to this story.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.
Contact Chris Klint