Officials identify six people who died after a flightseeing plane crash near Ketchikan

View of Misty Fjords National Monument from a float plane on August 1. (Molly Lubbers/KRBD).

UPDATE Aug 8 at 10 a.m.

Authorities have released the names of the five cruise ship visitors and pilot killed in Thursday’s floatplane crash in Misty Fjords National Monument.

The Southeast Aviation pilot was identified as 64-year-old Rolf Lanzendorfer of Cle Elum, Washington. A LinkedIn profile says he’s worked as a commercial pilot for the Ketchikan-based company for more than six years.

The five Holland America Line cruise ship passengers killed were identified as:

  • Mark Henderson, 69, of Napa, Calif.
  • Jacquelyn Komplin, 60, of Napa, Calif.
  • Andrea McArthur, 55, of Woodstock, Georgia
  • Rachel McArthur, 20, of Woodstock, Georgia
  • Janet Kroll, 77, of Mount Prospect, Illinois

The bodies of the six people were recovered on Saturday afternoon, officials said in a statement. Alaska State Troopers and members of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad arrived at the crash site at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, the state Department of Public Safety said in a statement. It says they will be transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Original story 

Six people were killed in a flightseeing plane crash near Ketchikan Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The de Havilland Beaver crashed eight miles northeast of Ketchikan, in the area of Misty Fjords National Monument. A pilot and five passengers aboard were on board.

In a statement, Holland America Line said the five passengers had come to Alaska on one of its cruise ships, the Nieuw Amsterdam, which stopped in Ketchikan on Thursday. The passengers were on a floatplane excursion with an independent tour operator, the cruise line said.

The Coast Guard got an emergency signal from the de Havilland Beaver around 11:20 a.m., said Petty Officer Eli Teller. The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers, U. S. Forest Service and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad responded.

Teller said the distress signal came from about 1,400-feet elevation in the Misty Fjords area. Bad weather hampered the search at first, he said.

According to the Coast Guard, a helicopter spotted the plane’s wreckage on a ridgeline.

Rescuers reached the site just after 2:30 p.m. A Coast Guard helicopter lowered two rescuers, but they found no survivors, the Coast Guard said.

Holland America said the plane excursion was independently operated by Southeast Aviation and not sold by the cruise line. It said the passengers were on a seven-day Alaska cruise that left Seattle on Saturday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and with our guests and team members who are affected by this tragedy,” the cruise line said.

Misty Fjords National Monument is a popular flightseeing destination, especially with cruise ship passengers.

In 2019, a midair collision between two flightseeing planes in the Misty Fjords area killed six people. In 2015, nine people died when a flightseeing plane slammed into a mountainside in Misty Fjords.

Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon and Julia O’Malley contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.

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