Petersburg, AK Communter Plane Crashes Off Island, Aug 1978


Petersburg, Alaska (AP) -- State and Federal authorities have begun a probe of a light plane crash that is believed to have claimed 12 lives in Southeast Alaska.
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators started work Sunday in cooperation with Alaska state troopers.
Coast Guard spokesman DAN DEWELL said four bodies had been recovered but that all 12 persons aboard were believed killed. A search of the area has been suspended, he said.
Troopers were trying to identify the four bodies found floating near an oil slick and debris from the plane about two miles east of Point Baker on Prince of Wales Island.
A preliminary investigation indicated the plane, a Grumman Goose, took off from Labouchere Bay of Friday, then headed around the north end of Prince of Wales Island and crashed before it reached its first stop on a return trip to Ketchikan, DEWELL said.
The plane, owned by Webber Airlines of Ketchikan, crashed into the ocean and apparently exploded, DEWELL said.
Officials originally believed 11 persons were aboard the return flight from Labouchere Bay to Ketchikan, about 75 miles to the southeast, but later said a Sitka man apparently had boarded the plane at an intermediate stop.
On board the plane were pilot JACK SWAIM, 40, of Ketchikan, one of the owners of Webber Airlines; PEGGY MURPHY, about 53, of Labouchere Bay, where her husband works as a logger; MILDRED MANTY, 67, of Ketchikan, an itinerant nurse with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and JEAN GAEDECKE, 55, also of Labouchere Bay, formerly of Oregon.
Also on board were DAVE BLACKBURN, 30, of Ketchikan; DANIEL KWAPICH, 21, a student at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks; BERT WHITE, 58, Sitka; JERRY KOWALSKI, 26, Ketchikan, formerly of New York state; GENE GRAY, 27, Colorado Springs, Colo.; DWAIN YOTHERS, 38, Ketchikan; JERRY MACIOUS, Ketchikan, formerly of Illinois; and NORMAN PERU, Ketchikan.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1978-08-28