Troopers identify plane crash victims

ANCHORAGE — The remains of two pilots have been found in the wreckage of a small commercial plane that crashed during a training flight near a southwest Alaska town, state troopers said Wednesday.


The pilots who died in the crash Tuesday afternoon near Bethel were identified as Derrick Cedars, 42, of Bethel, and Greggory McGee, 46, of Anchorage. They were the only two on board.

The burned wreckage of the Cessna 208 operated by Hageland Aviation was found near Three Step Mountain about 2 ½ hours later. The crash occurred in clear and calm weather about 30 miles southeast of Bethel, Hageland spokesman Steve Smith said.

It’s too early to say what caused the plane to go down, said Clint Johnson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation of the crash. NTSB investigations look at weather, pilot error and mechanical problems as possible causes.

“It’s in the very, very preliminary stages,” Johnson said of the investigation into Tuesday’s crash. “Everything is on the table at this point.”

Also not immediately clear is whether there were any radio communications between the plane and pilots in the area. There also were no immediate reports of anything recorded by a Federal Aviation Administration control tower or a flight service station, Johnson said.

Troopers flew to the scene by helicopter after the plane was reported overdue, and a local pilot spotted the burning wreckage, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Responders found the remains of the men in the wreckage.

Johnson said he didn’t know who was flying the Cessna when it crashed. Neither does Hageland, Smith said.

“This was a training flight, unfortunately until the crash site is completely reviewed there is no way to determine who was at the controls,” he wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

The NTSB also is investigating the crash of another Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 last November. Four people were killed and six others were injured in the crash of that commuter flight outside the southwest Alaska village of Saint Marys. A preliminary NTSB report said the plane had diverted course because of deteriorating weather.

An NTSB investigator was en route Wednesday to Bethel, 425 miles west of Anchorage. The NTSB also was sending a helicopter to the town, said Johnson, who added that the chopper will be used to transport an investigative team to the wreckage site no later than Thursday morning. After the initial on-scene investigation is completed, the helicopter will be used to recover the wreckage and take it back to Bethel, said Johnson, who added that ultimately, the wreckage will probably be transported to Anchorage.

Also part of the investigative team are the FAA, the Cessna’s operator and Cessna Aircraft, which was sending a technical expert to Alaska from Wichita, Kan., on Wednesday, Johnson said.

Cedars is survived by his wife and two children, and McGee is survived by his wife, Hageland said.

“When you have a family as close as ours at Hageland Aviation, you hope you never receive this sort of news,” Hageland President Jim Hickerson said in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Greggory and Derrick as well as those who have had a chance to work with them.”

Hageland Aviation is part of Ravn Alaska.

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