911 Call Alerts Officials to a Plane Crash in Alaska

What should have been a 15-minute plane ride from Juneau to Hoonah, Alaska ended in tragedy on July 17, 2015 when the commercial Wings of Alaska commuter plane went down en route to its destination. Officials in Juneau became aware of a plane crash when one of the survivors called 911. The name of the caller matched that of one of the people listed on the missing plane. The Cessna 207 was en route from Juneau to the small town of Hoonah, which is just 40 miles air west of Juneau.

Juneau Mountain Rescue dispatched three helicopters carrying volunteers to the area of the crash. The rescue crews on the ground found the downed plane in the rugged mountains about 18 miles west of Juneau.

Unfortunately, the pilot Fariah Peterson was deceased, but the four passengers survived the crash. Humberto Hernandez-Aponte, Sandra Herrera Lopez, and Jose Vazquez were airlifted out by helicopter. Ernestine Hanlon-Abel had extensive injuries and was also transported to Juneau for treatment by helicopter. Bartlett Regional Hospital stated that two of the survivors were in stable condition, one was in critical, and the final was in serious condition.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and a National Transportation Safety Board Investigator traveled from Anchorage to Juneau to investigate it. The National Weather Service reported rain, fog, and reduced visibility at the time of the crash along with cloud ceilings down to 400 feet.

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As a close-knit town of 800, Major Ken Skaflestad said that the news had shocked the city and that residents were anxious as they waited for more information. Since Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, its residents rely on air service and ferries to travel out of the town.