Former US Senator Ted Stevens among five killed in Alaska plane crash

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens Sean O' Keefe
On the left, Former Senator Ted Stevens in 2005; on the right, Former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe in 2004.
The wreckage of the plane
Image: NTSB.

Former US Senator Ted Stevens, 86, and former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, 54, were on an airplane that crashed in southwest Alaska, the Associated Press reports. A family spokesperson later confirmed that Stevens died in the crash, following earlier conflicting reports about his status. Both O'Keefe and his teenage son survived, according to a former NASA spokesperson.

In addition to the former Senator and former NASA chief, there were seven other passengers, The New York Times reports. Of those, five were reported to have died. The plane was heading to a fishing lodge near Lake Aleknagik when it crashed. Senator Stevens' body has been recovered.

The Alaska National Guard was called in at 7:00 p.m. AKDT (0300 UTC) Monday, and arrived at the crash site about 7:30 a.m. AKDT (1530 UTC) Tuesday. Severe weather has made finding the crash site difficult for rescue personnel. The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, said it was sending a team of investigators to the crash site, which is unusual for crashes of private aircraft.

As of 10:00 a.m. AKDT (1800 UTC), three of the survivors have been airlifted from the site by the United States Coast Guard.

Ted Stevens was born on November 18, 1923 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began serving as a US Senator for Alaska in 1968, and held the postition until 2009, when he was defeated in a reelection bid by Mark Begich. He was also facing corruption charges at the time, which were later dropped after an initial conviction when it was found that prosecutors had withheld evidence from Stevens' defense attorneys. In 1978, Stevens survived a plane crash in Anchorage, although the incident claimed the life of his first wife, Ann.

Sean O'Keefe was nominated as a NASA administrator in 2001 by then-president George W. Bush, and led the space organization through shaky times, such as the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. He resigned in 2005 to become the chancellor of Louisiana State University.


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