Haines, AK Sightseeing Plane Crash, Jul 1995


Haines, Alaska (AP) - Rescue teams have recovered the bodies of six men who died when their sightseeing plane crashed and burned on a mountain near this Southeast Alaska city while bear-watching.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were headed for the crash site Saturday in efforts to determine what caused the single-engine Cherokee to slam into the mountain at about the 500-foot level above Pyramid Harbor.
"It was overcast, but with high ceilings," said Don Otis, an Alaska State Trooper based at Haines.
"Weather was not a factor."
Otis said he was gathering dental records of the victims, whose bodies were burned beyond recognition when the plane burst into flames after plunging into a grove of trees Friday afternoon.
Smoke from the crash was visible from Haines, he said.
The five passengers on the LAB Flying Service charter were touring Alaska's Inside Passage aboard the cruise ship Sea Spirit.
The ship was tied up at Haines while some of its passengers scheduled flightseeing tours of Glacier Bay.
The crash occurred around 3 p.m., six minutes after the plane took off from the Haines Airport.
Witnesses from a second LAB sightseeing plane reported seeing the first aircraft maneuver for a look at some bears, then slow and appear to stall, said Joette Storm, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration in Anchorage.
LAB owner Layton Bennett used a helicopter to set down several rescuers and emergency equipment on a beach below the crash site, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Randy Moseng. The rescuers then picked their way up the steep mountainside on foot, he said.
They found no survivors.
The Coast Guard identified the dead as:
JEFF BRADLEY, 25, of Haines, the pilot.
and passengers;
GEORGE DRUMHELLER, 62, of Walla Walla, Wash.
DANIEL SHEA, 37, of Walla Walla, Waah.
JOHN DEGREGORIO, of Palm Springs, Calif.
RON PEARSON, of Houston, Texas.
ALLEN SCHECTER, of Houston, Texas.
Ages were not immediately available for DEGREGORIO, PEARSON and SCHECTER.
Rescuers using chainsaws cleared an area near the wreckage so the bodies could be removed by Coast Guard helicopter and be ferried to the Haines Airport. From there, they were flown to Juneau, 80 miles southeast.
The accident was the fifth fatal plane crash in Alaska in the past few weeks. Many of the 20 victims were tourists.
Two planes with five people aboard collided about 200 feet over the Tazimina River north of Iliamna Lake on June 20. All aboard were killed.
A twin-engine Piper Navajo carrying four Ohio visitors crashed into a mountainside June 25, apparently after missing an instrument approach to the Valdez Airport. All were killed.
Another four people died July 1, three of them Coast Guard personnel, when a single-engine plane on a charter flight crash into a mountain about 10 miles northwest of the Kodiak Airport.
And one man died when a Super Cub on floats crashed into the Yukon River near Nulato on Wednesday.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1995-07-10