ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska State Troopers confirm a Piper PA-20 plane went down Sunday on Goat Mountain near Alyeska. On board were the pilot and three passengers, none of whom survived, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
AST says the crash happened at about 5,000 feet elevation and that a Pave Hawk helicopter responded. FAA says that the preliminary cause was "unknown circumstances after take off." FAA records show that the plane was built in 1957.
The names of the people on board have not been released by investigators, but Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services, an Anchorage company, sent out an email to its employees confirming that the owner of the plane, Karl Erickson worked at the company.
The email said "It is with a heavy heart that we share Karl Erickson was involved in a fatal airplane accident" on Sunday.
The email says that the employee had worked on the Port of Anchorage providing safety support to Marathon Oil.
"We're all holding his family and friends in our hearts and prayers during this tragic time," writes the email.
According to APU Nordic Ski Center head coach Erik Flora, who was overseeing a training camp on the glacier at the time of the accident, the wreck occurred in a difficult-to-access area on the south side of Eagle Glacier.
"We were standing on the top of our course which is on the south end of Eagle Glacier and between where the ski tracks are, there's a blue ice field and then a rocky cliff area, so it would have been extremely hard to access by foot," he said.
Flora said that he was at the Thomas Glacier Training Center on the southeastern side of the glacier when an athlete skied up and told him they had witnessed the crash.
"I called Alpine Air, which is a helicopter service out of Girdwood and notified them and asked for help," he recounted. "I then organized one of my staff and we got some emergency equipment together and some fire extinguishers and got on our snow machines and went to see if we could find the, you know, where the smoke was and see if we could help. By the time we got over on the edge of the glacier Alpine Air was on site, and so they were able to get to the accident."
Later, para jumpers arrived to assess the wreckage, Flora said.
He said the area is a common place for planes to be flying.
"We see planes regularly flying over Eagle, regularly during the week," he said.
Smoke rising from Goat Mountain visible from the Seward Highway. (Photo courtesy of Billy Adams)
AST says a crew, along with the NTSB, are heading to the scene to investigate and that they are still at work formulating a plan for recovery of the wreckage.
According to the FAA's website, four people died. The plane that went down was a Piper PA22. One crew member and three passengers died.
Derek Minemyer, Mike Ross, & Lex Treinen contributed to reporting on this story
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