Helicopter crashes into Alaska lake, four dead US News

Four bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed into a shallow lake in Alaska last week, authorities said.

Search and rescue divers have recovered the bodies of a helicopter pilot and three scientists in remote North Slope waters.

The 1996 Bell 206 helicopter crashed last Thursday while transporting Alaska Department of Natural Resources staff on a field trip in the area.

The North Slope Police Department identified the dead as Ronald Daanen, 51; Justin Gelman, 27; Tori Moore, 26; and pilot Bernard “Tony” Higdon, 48.

These scientists are members of the Geological and Geophysical Survey Division. The helicopter is owned by Sea Helicopters.

Volunteers from the Alaska Diving Search, Rescue and Rescue Team arrived at the crash site around 10:45 p.m. Saturday and recovered the body around 6 a.m. Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Clint Johnson, director of the NTSB’s Alaska region, said the only way to salvage the wreckage was to use another helicopter because it was in the middle of one of the many lakes dotted across the vast tundra.

“In Alaska, commercial helicopters are at a premium during fire season, so we’re challenged with using them to do the job,” he said.

Authorities said the plane could not be lifted from the lake until Monday or Tuesday due to a lack of available helicopters.

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