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Excerpts from interviews with Alaska plane crash rescuers

Former senator Ted Stevens's plane crashed, killing five passengers. The four who survived would spend 18 hours waiting for rescue in the wilds of Alaska.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Selected excerpts from interviews with participants in the search and rescue efforts following the Stevens crash.

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"It was a horrible night."

Tom Tucker, helicopter pilot and owner of Tucker Aviation

I was watching the news when Bob [Himschoot] called at 6:30. He came over and we lifted off.

We found a spot about a quarter-mile west of the crash site. It was the only place you could get in there. I landed and dropped Bob off.

I heard [GCI president] Ron Duncan say "I got a doctor right beside me. Is there any way we can get her in there?" I landed at the airstrip at Lake Aleknagik, it was 7:10 or something, and landed at the crash site again.

Bob went through that alder brush. It may not have been all that far, but it seemed like 100 miles. Bob had hiked down and come back -- boy, he was soaked to the bone. Everything you touched, it was like taking a shower. The brush was as high as a three-foot ledge. You had to crawl over this stuff.

Bob said "Hey, we got four survivors and we need help, why don't you go back to Dillingham." [Bob and Dani] took all the gear they could carry. You couldn't see three feet in front of you when they left.

I lifted out and headed to Dillingham and got John and Susan [Dunson] with all the gear they could haul and put it in the helicopter and I went back. The fog had come down. I could maybe see 60 feet. I crawled the helicopter up the ridge. I could see wreckage. I found the spot and, by golly, I put her down. I had a good idea that we were close. It was my third time, but I hadn't been in the brush yet.

After a half hour, John said "Are you sure this is the right way?"

It was boulders, creeks, water running underneath them. I smelled jet fuel and I started hollering.

"Hey Bob!"


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