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A Wednesday afternoon plane crash took the life of a former Alaskan Senator on Fort Wainwright. Former Senator Mike Kelly was the pilot of the aircraft and the only one aboard, according to reports.
Alaska State Troopers received the report of the fatal crash at the military base 17 miles southeast of Fairbanks at 1:32 pm.
A military helicopter was airborne in the area when the crash set off the American Champion Citabria’s emergency locator beacon and responded to the location. Once on the scene, the helicopter crew confirmed that Kelly was deceased.
Former Senator Kelly is the brother of incoming Alaska Senate President Senator Pete Kelly.
Troopers responded to the scene to conduct an investigation, as have the National Transportation Board. Kelly’s wife, Cherie also told the Fairbanks News Miner that she intended to go to the crash site as well.
Members of the House Majority Coalition said in a press release that they are saddened to learn of kelly’s unfortunate death.
“Mike Kelly embodied the spirit of Alaska and he faithfully served the people during his six years in the Alaska House,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, the incoming Speaker of the House. “I was fortunate enough to sit next to Mike in the House, and was able to get to know him and enjoy his sense of humor. Mike was a very driven and determined individual, a family man, and a true Alaskan outdoorsman. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Mike Kelly served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 2004 – 2010, and had a well-deserved reputation as a staunch advocate for the Fairbanks area.
“Mike Kelly amassed numerous legislative accomplishments but that’s not why he will be missed,” said Rep. David Guttenberg, who served alongside Kelly in the Alaska Legislature. “Mike Kelly will be missed because he cared about the people of Fairbanks and the future of our state. I will remember him as a public servant and am saddened by his passing.”
“Mike and I enjoyed working together, and easily put our politics to the side to become friends in the legislature,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage). “My heart goes out to his family.”
Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker ordered all flags to be lowered to half mast immediately, and remains so until Wednesday, December 14th.
“We lost a great Alaskan, wholly committed to his family and his community,” Governor Walker said. “Mike Kelly served faithfully for six years as a legislator, but his commitment to a better Alaska exceeded his time in public office. In my many meetings with Mike about making energy more affordable in Alaska, his commitment to Fairbanks and his family always shone through. Mike was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He was a man of strong faith, and Donna and I pray that faith will sustain his wife, Cherie, and the entire Kelly family.”