Wednesday, September 21, 2022

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, N24BR: Accident occurred September 18, 2022 in Egegik, Alaska

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Kemner, Heidi

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Bradley Sapp; Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska 

River Front AKN LLC 

Location: Egegik, Alaska 
Accident Number: ANC22LA078
Date and Time: September 18, 2022, 18:30 Local
Registration: N24BR
Injuries: 2 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: DEHAVILLAND
Registration: N24BR
Model/Series: DHC-2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code: EQWA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time: 18:30 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Egegik, AK
Destination: King Salmon, AK (PAKN)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 57.872361,-155.82937 

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances on departure.

Date: 19-SEP-22
Time: 03:00:00Z
Regis#: N24BR
Aircraft Make: DEHAVILLAND
Aircraft Model: DHC-2
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Flight Crew:  1 No injuries
Pax: 0
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91

Casey West's hand is mangled after he used it to brace for impact during a plane crash on September 18, 2022.

Casey West with Cal and Craig Stefanko

Casey West and Cal Stefanko

Casey West

Casey West left Michigan and headed into the Alaskan wild for an unforgettable adventure. 

He feels lucky to have gotten out alive after it ended in a plane crash.

“It was an experience,” West, a 36-year-old Brandon Township resident, said. “Hopefully I never have this exact experience again, but it was an adventure.”

West, a nurse at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, was excited and worry-free as he set out on his lifetime dream of an Alaskan moose hunt.

This was a stark contrast to his wife, Samantha, who increased her husband’s life insurance policy ahead of the trip. She was concerned over the safety of a bush plane, the biggest risk of such a trip, with about 10 crashes per season.

“That is the only way to get around out there — flying by bush plane,” West said.

Her fears were well-founded, although West noted that flying by a bush, or float plane is the only way to get around Alaska, and a car accident would be more likely.


West and his two traveling companions arrived in King Salmon Sept. 11. The following day, a bush pilot flew them without incident to Unit 9E, a game management area in the Alaska Peninsula.

The trio then hiked a half-mile to set up camp in tents. The next day, the hunt was on and West wasted no time getting his moose, described as the hardest hunt he's ever done.

“I was not prepared for how big these animals are,” he said, noting that he had shot elk before, but the moose was twice as large.

The moose was easy to spot from nearly 2 miles away, and West stalking the animal until he was within 140 yards, from where he got a clean shot. It took two full days to pack out more than 700 pounds of meat from the kill, carrying it on a backpack as he slogged miles through boggy terrain where he sank to his kneecap with each step.

It was cold, wet and miserable, he recalled. Conditions were about to deteriorate dramatically with a tsunami bringing 50-70 mph winds forcing them to shelter in the tent for two days.

Chaos would resume the next day when one of the hunters nearly got trampled by a bull moose that did two fake charges, coming within five feet. Due to hunting restrictions, the animal was not large enough to kill.

The weather had turned again with pouring rain and low visibility, but then early that evening with visibility increased to about 4-5 miles and a 15 mph wind out of the north, two planes arrived to pick up the travelers and the moose meat, ensuring even weight distribution.

West described what happened next as his plane rose from a lake with 15-foot embankments on three sides.

“We took off north because there was no bank — we’re going, going, going, and all of a sudden, we got hit by a huge wind gust,” he said. “We weren’t high enough off the water and the wing hit the water and dragged and spun us to the left. The pilot was pulling at the lever to get the plane up, and I said, ‘Oh my God, we’re gonna hit the bank.’ And we hit it so hard, we shot up into the air 70 to 80 yards, spinning and then nosedived right into the Earth.”

West had just enough time to put his right hand over his head and stick his left hand out to brace for impact, while yelling a few obscenities.

The entire episode was over in seconds as the crash flipped the aircraft upside down. West struck his head and would have bruises over an eighth of his body, but his left hand sustained the most visible damage with numerous cuts.

“Cal, you ok?” he yelled, receiving an answer in the affirmative as he unstrapped his seatbelt and fell to the ceiling.

The pilot, who sustained a head injury that would require 17 stitches, yelled at West to get out of the plane by the front window. The three ran from the wreckage to the shock and relief of those in the other plane who thought they had just seen a crash from which no one could have survived.

West couldn’t believe they were alive either as he sent an SOS text to emergency responders notifying them of the plane crash.

National Transportation Safety Board Spokesman Peter Knudson said in any given year, there are on average around 1,100 aviation accidents in the United States. Nearly all of those, about 98 percent, are accidents categorized as general aviation (typically recreational flights and small planes) as opposed to involving the major air carriers. An aviation accident is defined as any event that involves substantial damage to an airplane.

In 2019, there were 82 general aviation accidents in Alaska. Thirteen of those accidents involved fatalities with a total of 32 people dying. The causes of the crashes were found to be pilot error, equipment malfunction, weather conditions, or a combination of these factors.

Knudson said that flight regulations are the same in Alaska as elsewhere, but the environment is more challenging, including infrastructure, weather, and terrain.

It could be up to two years before the investigation into this most recent plane crash is completed, but West said the pilot, who he described as a very nice guy, admitted his error.

“The pilot didn’t have too much to say other than ‘I f****d up,’ and that he should have hit the kill switch and pulled up,” West said. “It’s very unfortunate it happened to him. He said he is done. He’s retiring after 40 years and it was probably his last flight.”

It won’t be the last for West, who came home to Michigan with a couple hundred pounds of moose meat after donating about 1,200 pounds to native Alaskans. He and Stefanko also gave some of the meat to the keepers of the Antlers Inn who showed great hospitality to them, and where they became local celebrities.

He got a warm reception of smiles, tears, and many hugs when he came home as well. West took a lighthearted approach in recounting his adventure, telling his three young children that daddy hurt his hand punching the earth to stop the plane, and asking Samantha if she was happy or mad that she missed out on a $1.3 million life insurance pay-out. Still, he is deeply touched to learn how many people cared.

He admitted he may have to “butter up” his wife to go out west on an elk hunt in October, and he hopes to return to Alaska, too.

“It was crazy,” West said. “But I can’t wait to go back. I’d do it again.”

No comments:

Post a Comment