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Former NASA chief survives Alaska crash that killed Stevens

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DILLINGHAM, Alaska » An amphibious plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens crashed into a remote mountainside during a fishing trip, killing the state’s most beloved political figure and four others and stranding the survivors on a rocky, brush-covered slope overnight.

Three teenagers and their parents, including the former head of NASA, were on the plane when it plowed into the mountain Monday afternoon with so much force that it left a 300-foot gash on the slope, federal investigators said.

Former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe survived along with his teenage son Kevin.

Sean O’Keefe attended Damien Memorial School between 1969 and 1972 before leaving to complete high school in Connecticut. Friends and teachers at Damien said they were shocked at news of the crash.

"This was someone that I knew, and he might not be here anymore," said Steve Lewis, a Damien instructor and alumnus who was on the speech team with O’Keefe. "I was grateful that he made it and his son made it."

A doctor and two EMTs hiked to the scene Monday evening and tended to the survivors’ broken bones, cuts and bruises during a cold and frightening night on the mountain.

William "Willy" Phillips Jr., 13, survived but had to spend the night near his dead father, William "Bill" Phillips Sr. Jim Morhard of Alexandria, Va., also survived.

Dana Tindall, 48, an executive with GCI, and her 16-year-old daughter, Corey Tindall, died, as did pilot Theron "Terry" Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Alaska.

Investigators with the NTSB arrived late yesterday at the crash site. The cause was not immediately known, but weather is one area investigators will examine.

 

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