Yute Air revealed the name of the pilot of the scheduled commuter air crash that occurred on Thursday 12 miles southwest of Tuntutuliak as that of Tony Matthews.
The aircraft, a Piper PA-32R Cherokee, had been traveling from Bethel to Kipnuk when it went down. Troopers in Bethel were notified of the overdue aircraft at 1:32 pm and within minutes the crash site was located. Two troopers responded to the crash area by snow machine.
RCC launched a Blackhawk from Bethel and upon reaching the site, confirmed that the pilot, as well as his four passengers, were deceased. The body of one was recovered from the scene on Thursday, and on Friday, volunteers and troopers were able to recover the other four with the aid of the Bethel Fire Department’s extraction gear, which was transported to the scene by a Federal Department of Fish and Wildlife aircraft.
The minus 40-degree weather hampered efforts at the crash site, as did the rural location.
The remains have been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for autopsy and positive identification. The identities of the passengers will be released following next of kin notifications AST said on Friday.
Yute Commuter Service General Manager Nathan McCabe issued a statement, saying,
“On Thursday at approximately at 11 a.m., a Yute Commuter Service Piper PA-32R tail number N7632C, crashed about 11 miles west of Tuntutuliak while in route to Kipnuk and Chefornak, resulting in five casualties: the pilot Tony Mathews and four passengers. The names of the passengers are being withheld until the notification of their next of kin. The cause of the accident is unknown at this time. The NTSB will conduct a full and thorough investigation. Yute Commuter Service offers our deepest condolences of the families of those lost in this unfortunate event. We will be closed on February 7th, 2020. Yute Commuter Service is committed to do everything possible to provide safe and reliable air travel within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.”
Yute Air cancelled all of their flights on Friday.
NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash.