Rescuers recover bodies of 3 killed in medevac plane crash near Cooper Landing

Cooper Landing and the Kenai Mountains. (Photo courtesy/Bob Pugh)

Cooper Landing and the Kenai Mountains. (Photo courtesy/Bob Pugh)

Climbers with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group on Sunday recovered the bodies of three people who died in a medevac plane that crashed and burned late Friday in mountainous terrain west of Cooper Landing, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Two of the victims were Medevac Alaska employees Robert Cartner and Maddox Burts, according to a social media post from the air ambulance service. Security Aviation operated the twin-engine Piper PA-31 Navajo plane. The company later identified the pilot as Glen Morthorpe.

Troopers spokesperson Ken Marsh said the first calls about the plane being overdue came in after 7 p.m. Friday. The plane was flying from Anchorage to Seward to pick up a patient, according to Security Aviation.

Marsh said military aircraft with the Rescue Coordination Center flew over the crash site Friday night, but rescuers were unable to reach the ground due to steep, mountainous terrain and poor weather.

But from that initial look, Marsh said, it appeared unlikely that anyone onboard had survived.

“You could see the nature of the crash and the fact that there was a subsequent fire, and there was just no signs of life when they flew over, so it seemed fairly clear at the time,” Marsh said.

The troopers’ Helo-3 flew over the crash site on Saturday with an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board, but they were also not able to land, Marsh said.

It was not until Sunday that members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, also accompanied by the NTSB investigator, climbed up from the Sterling Highway to reach the site, Marsh said. They recovered the bodies of the three on board the plane by 3 p.m. Sunday, according to troopers.

The circumstances of the crash are under investigation.

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