Weather hampers crash rescue efforts

Posted: Wednesday, August 01, 2001

JUNEAU -- Low clouds kept a recovery crew and crash investigators from ascending to the site of a single-engine plane that went down near a peak on the Davidson Glacier, killing all six aboard.

The five-member team will attempt to reach the crash site again on Wednesday, said Greg Wilkinson, Alaska State Troopers spokesman.

The Cherokee Six plane, operated by LAB Flying Service of Haines, was found Monday at an elevation of about 5,000 feet after it failed to return from a sightseeing trip.

Skies over Haines were overcast on Tuesday with a cloud ceiling of about 1,600 feet and light rain, the National Weather Service in Juneau said.

''Where the crash site is, it would be in the clouds,'' said Laura Furgione, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau.

Wilkinson said three members of Juneau Mountain Rescue and an investigator each from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administra-tion will attempt to reach the crash site by helicopter.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

So far only the identity of the pilot and a Canadian passenger have been released. The names of four German tourists are being withheld pending notification of relatives, troopers said.

The pilot is identified as Chad Beers, 26, of Juneau. The passenger is Marianne Cederberg, 55, of Toronto, state troopers said.

The six took off from Skagway at about 2 p.m. Monday for a 90-minute trip. The victims were part of a tour out of Whitehorse, in the Yukon.

After the plane failed to return a search was launched at about 5 p.m. and the Coast Guard was able to locate the crash site by an emergency beacon on the airplane. The wreckage was found near the peak of the Davidson Glacier about 12 miles south of Haines at 7:15 p.m. Monday.

It was located at the base of a rock face where it had apparently impacted and slid down, said Petty Officer Darrell Wilson, of the Coast Guard.

LAB has about three dozen planes operating across Southeast Alaska.

The company's business operations are in Haines and flight operations are based in Juneau. A spokeswoman for the company refused comment on Tuesday.

At about the time of the crash the weather around Haines was overcast with a cloud ceiling at 7,000 feet and a 1,500-foot broken layer of clouds moving around the area, Furgione said.

Winds were at 22 miles per hour and no rain was reported, she said.



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