3 bodies found in wreckage along Iditarod route

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The bodies of two adults and a 10-year-old girl were found in the wreckage of a small airplane that crashed Monday near the route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Pilot Ted Smith, 59, Carolyn Sorvoja, 48, and Rosemarie Sorvoja, 10, died in the crash near Rainy Pass.

All were from Eagle River, a community on Anchorage's north side.

They had left Anchorage on Monday morning bound for Takotna, a village of 53 people about 17 miles west of McGrath and 235 miles northwest of Anchorage. The community is more than a quarter of the way into the 1,000-mile Iditarod.

The Sorvoja family referred questions to family spokesman David Morris, who said the Sorvojas were heading to Takotna to volunteer for the race.

The Cessna 182 left Anchorage from Merrill Field at about 10 a.m. and did not file a flight plan.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said by email that the airplane was supposed to drop off the Sorvojas and return to Anchorage to transport more passengers.

The 182 Cessna did not arrive in Takotna and was reported overdue around 4 p.m. when it had not returned to Anchorage.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, just before 6 p.m., launched a search with a HC-130 airplane and a helicopter. The aircraft searched for about eight hours along the projected flight route, said the center superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte.

Smith was an experienced, well equipped pilot, said Kalei Brooks, spokeswoman for the Alaska National Guard. Smith was carrying a personal locator beacon in his vest and an emergency locator transmitter on his airplane. However, neither sent out a signal that was detected Monday by the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system.

On Tuesday morning, the search resumed with about 10 military, state trooper and private aircraft flying grids in an extended search.

Aerial searchers spotted the wreckage at 10:22 a.m. near the 4,000-foot level of Rainy Pass.

Iditarod racers reach an elevation of 3,200 feet at the pass, which divides southcentral Alaska from the state's vast Interior north of the Alaska Range.

Searchers landed and confirmed that no one had survived. They recovered the bodies and flew them to Anchorage, where autopsies were scheduled.

 

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