Plane crash kills Cooper Landing resident

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A man from Cooper Landing died and his father was seriously injured when their single engine aircraft crashed to the west of Godwin Glacier near Seward on Monday.

Wayne Koecher, 60, of Cooper Landing, his son, Wayne Koecher Jr., 24, and their dog were discovered after the U.S. Coast Guard detected their emergency transmitter roughly 7.5 miles northeast of Seward.

The Cessna 185 had crashed at roughly 4,000 feet in elevation.

The Coast Guard first detected its transmitter at about noon and dispatched a helicopter from Kodiak in an attempt to reach the downed aircraft.

The helicopter located the plane but was unable to reach the crash site due to bad weather.

The site was finally reached at 9 p.m. after the Army Air National Guard dispatched a rescue tanker, pararescuemen and a helicopter out of Anchorage.

According to the Air National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center, small snow squalls and darkness made the rescue mission difficult and risky.

The rescue required night-vision goggles and the rescue tanker dropped flares to illuminate the crash site.

Helicopter pararescuemen were lowered to the glacier to reach the site and took the father and son to Providence Hospital in Anchorage.

Shortly after arrival at the hospital, Koecher Jr. was pronounced dead.

Koecher remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Residents in Cooper Landing said Koecher Jr. was a talented musician and played for a New Year’s Eve party with Mike Morgan at the Cooper Landing Community Club.

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