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Two People Die in Small Airplane Crash

Denali National Park and Preserve

National Park News

Roy Abel, 65, and Claire Purnell, 65, both from the Long Beach, California area, died on Friday, August 5th, when the single engine Beech Bonanza they were flying crashed in the park at the 5,300 foot elevation on the ridge dividing the Riley Creek and Little Windy Creek drainages, approximately 15 miles southwest of the park headquarters. According to witness statements, the accident is believed to have occurred shortly before noon. The National Park Service was notified of a possible downed aircraft in the park at approximately 2:30 p.m. by Alaska State Troopers, who had been given information by the US Air Force 11th Resource Coordination Center (RCC) in Anchorage. Early reports of the accident had the site on the Eldridge Glacier, which is south of the Alaska Range, but additional information was developed from witnesses which put the accident site to the northeast in the Riley/Windy Creek area inside the park wilderness. RCC dispatched a Pavehawk helicopter from the 210th Air Rescue Squadron with pararescue personnel from the 212th Air Rescue Squadron aboard to the reported crash site. At 4:00 p.m., the park was notified that pararescue personnel had reached the scene and confirmed that both of the plane's occupants had perished. Their remains were transported by the Pavehawk helicopter to the Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage. The pair was flying the private plane from Fairbanks to Anchorage as part of a guided aviation excursion consisting of nine aircraft. Four planes were flying together at the time of the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to arrive in the park today to conduct an investigation of the crash site. Park rangers will also fly into the site on Monday to assist with the accident investigation. A plan to remove the plane is being developed.



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