Plane crash kills four people south of Bettles

Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Four people died Sunday after their plane crashed south of Bettles.

Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as Nancy H. Lewis, 48, of Fairbanks. The identities of the three passengers were being withheld until next of kin could be notified. Troopers said Monday all the passengers were from New Mexico and were on a flight-seeing tour.

The state Rescue Coordination Center called troopers at 3:30 p.m. after receiving a signal from an electronic location transmitter. The signal indicated a downed plane 48-50 miles south of Bettles, a rural community in the foothills of the Brooks Range about 180 miles northeast of Fairbanks.

A Fish and Wildlife Protection trooper flew to the area and located the crash near Lake Sithylemenkat. The lake is about 38 miles east of the Dalton Highway.

The aircraft, which was on its way to Fairbanks, had just taken off from the lake when it lost power at about 500 feet and smashed into the side of a mountain, said Tim DeSpain, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers.

The Fish and Wildlife Protection trooper landed about a mile away and hiked to the downed plane, a 1977 Maule, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft, reaching the site at 6:10 p.m. All four persons on board were dead, DeSpain said.

Troopers said a helicopter with additional troopers would retrieve the bodies.

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