Six people have been killed, including an Australian, after two seaplanes collided mid-air on an Alaskan shore excursion.
Fourteen passengers, all of whom were travelling aboard the Royal Princess, as well as two pilots, were involved in the accident. The collision occurred around 15 kilometres from Coon Cove, Ketchikan on May 13 at 1:08pm, local time.
The de Havilland Otter DHC-3 operated by local company, Taquan Air, was carrying 10 cruise passengers on a return trip from a Misty Fjords tour sold through Princess Cruises.
The second seaplane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, which was carrying four guests from Royal Princess, was on an independent tour run by Mountain Air.
The Alaska State Troopers has identified the Australian passenger as Simon Bodie, 56-year-old from Tempe, New South Wales.
He was initially missing and was later found and pronounced dead.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to his family.
The nationalities of the people from both planes are 14 Americans, one Canadian and one Australian.
The other deceased individuals have been identified:
Randy Sullivan, 46-year-old male, pilot, from Ketchikan, Alaska.
Cassandra Webb, 62-year-old female from Saint Louis, Missouri.
Ryan Wilk, 39-year-old male, from Utah.
Louis Botha, 46-year-old male, from San Diego, California.
Elsa Wilk, 37-year-old female, from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
The other ten Americans involved in the accident were rescued and admitted to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
“At this time, of the 10 people we received yesterday at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, 4 were stabilized and transferred by medevac to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle yesterday and 6 were admitted and are in fair condition,” says Mischa Chernick, spokesperson from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
“We are deeply saddened to report this news and our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families of those impacted by today’s accident,” said Princess Cruises in a statement.
“Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved.”
“We immediately activated our Princess Care Team employees in the region and sent additional team members to Ketchikan overnight to assist the families impacted,” said Brian O’Connor, a spokesman for Princess Cruises.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the two planes collided mid-air. The circumstances are still unknown.
Taquan Air has suspended operations while the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the deadly collision.
The Royal Princess is currently sailing a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise that departed Vancouver on May 11.
Royal Princess departed Ketchikan approximately 3.5 hours late and will arrive in Juneau at approximately 9:00 local time.
Image credit (top): KTVA