Alaska village reeling after plane crash leaves school without all 3 teachers

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials were trying to determine what to do after a small plane carrying all three teachers for a remote Alaska village school crashed in the wilderness, killing one of the teachers and injuring the two others just three days before classes were to begin.

The pilot also died when the plane went down in poor visibility Saturday night in interior Alaska, officials said.

Karen Ladegard, superintendent of the Iditarod School District, said Sunday that the single-engine Cessna 207 was returning to the community of Anvik when it crashed.

The survivors were flown to an Anchorage hospital, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

Ms. Ladegard identified the injured as Don and Rosemary Evans, their 10-year-old son, Don Jr., and 8-year-old daughter, McKenzie.

The couple were set to share a teaching position at the 18-student school, where classes were scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Ms. Ladegard said she spoke by phone with Mrs. Evans, who said from the hospital that many of the injuries are broken bones. None of the injuries appear life-threatening, she added.

Ms. Ladegard said the two who died were Julie Walker, a lifelong Anvik resident and longtime teacher in the village, and the pilot, Ernie Chase, who was originally from Anvik.

Residents in the community of 85 are reeling, she said.

“Everybody is calling me. They’re devastated,” Ms. Ladegard said by phone from the community of McGrath.

The teachers had been in the small town of McGrath, 225 miles northwest of Anchorage, for training, the Daily News reported.

The Cessna left McGrath on Saturday evening and was headed to Anvik, about 140 miles to the west.

Later Saturday, a personal spot beacon transmitting a 911 signal was activated, showing the plane 37 miles west of McGrath. The Alaska National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage coordinated the ensuing search, which was hampered by poor weather, Guard officials said.

The Cessna’s emergency locator beacon helped searchers pinpoint the exact location, said Benjamin Morgan, a ground crew member for Inland Aviation.

The deadly crash follows two recent midair collisions in the state, including one that killed an Anchorage family of four.

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