4 injured in Yukon Island plane crash

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Smokey Bay Air single-engine plane crashed Tuesday morning on Yukon Island, injuring a man and three women. All four victims were taken by Maritime Helicopters to Homer and treated at South Peninsula Hospital.

Injured were Jennifer Foltz, 30, the pilot; Teresa Cook, 24, of Nanwalek; James Pastro, 53, of Anchor Point; and Cledia Larrison, 52, of Seldovia.

Family have been notified. Foltz, Pastro and Larrison were medevaced to Anchorage for further treatment, said Charlie Franz, SPH chief executive officer.

In a press release from Smokey Bay Air, the air charter and flightseeing company said the Cessna 206 piloted by Foltz made an emergency landing about 11 a.m. Tuesday after losing power.

The plane came down on a rocky beach on the east end of Yukon Island, near private property on the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge island about 6 miles across from Homer, and stopped near the high tide line and a pile of driftwood.

“Jenn did a very good job of getting the plane to the beach,” said Brian Miller, a Halibut Cove resident who diverted his boat to the plane crash as he was on his way to Homer.

Alaska State Troopers went to the crash site in the P/V Augustine. All four victims were taken by Maritime Helicopters to the Homer Airport and transported by ambulance to the hospital. Troopers could not release information on the severity of the injuries, said Megan Peters, information officer for the troopers.

The on-scene response was excellent, Miller said. An emergency medical technician and registered nurse were at the beach responding within minutes of the crash. Miller said he saw some victims with broken bones, but did not know the exact injuries.

Maritime Helicopters flew one EMT to the scene, said Dean Thoemke, assistant fire chief for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department.

“Those guys did a great job,” he said of Maritime Helicopters. “They need a big ‘attaboy.’”

Petro Marine also sent a boat with a firefighter, Jose Diaz, who works at Petro.

South Peninsula Hospital called in area doctors to treat the wounded at the emergency room, Franz said.

“We were fortunate that we had enough staff to shift some staff from other duties to help out,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Things are fairly hectic right now. We had wonderful response as usual from the volunteer fire department.”

Pastro is the Homer area maintenance foreman for the Kenai Peninsula Borough and was in Nanwalek working on the school, said Richard Campbell, general services director for the borough.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, said James LaBelle, regional director for the National Transportation Board. Investigators have arranged for the plane to be taken to Homer for further examination.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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