Sunday, October 09, 2022

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

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 September 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.”

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 


  1. Not sure if life insurance covers you in a float plane.

    1. yes. When I had term life policy in my younger years 2 decades ago, it specifically excluded a GA accident.

    2. Depends on your company and the policy. Mine covers me for scuba diving, flying (pilot and passenger) sky diving, and even covers me in a war zone.

    3. I would have been happy to see all 3 of these chickenshits, with their high powered rifles, get hurt, or dead.

    4. If you will look up the definition of chickenshit you’ll find it is someone who sits behind a keyboard and wishes others will die in a plane crash

    5. Yes, what a total a-hole. Guess what? Hunting happens.

    6. This nonhuman talking about chickenshits should see how they kill cows in a packinghouse for his steaks, then he would never eat steaks again.

  2. cost of living clearly is not an issue for Casey West, and Cal and Craig Stefanko. In 2021, for a hunt in that region of Alaska, starting costs were "10 Day Moose Hunt. $19,500 each. One Guide One Hunter. Included in these hunts: Experienced fully guided hunts. Comfortable tent camps" @ becharof outfitters

    1. @12:05 poster: Guides, pilots, mechanics and outfitters all earn income from the activities of the hunters. A much better life than can be had indoors working through a laptop. With the proper perspective regarding success of your fellow citizens, let go of the envy and take some joy in the understanding of what hunting charters provide to those working folks and their families.

    2. So? Quit whining about what other people have and get to work! Change your circumstances. Sheesh.

  3. Who hunts poor animals just to kill and love it to kill is a great win for a horrible death him self. Highly appreciated. Nice to see them suffer as much as possible. The destiny is your judge or better to say the karma finds you anyway.

    1. What's the difference between them and you, wishing suffering on human beings? Sadist.

    2. @3:46 poster: Karma will judge those of us who eat broccoli, too. Wish I had known about it all of those years. Grew some in my garden but didn't hear the shrieking when harvested. So guilty and doomed!

  4. Is being eaten alive by a pack of wolves a better way to go?

  5. haha at least not bad to keep the humor alive ! Difficult times for the most of us, anyway.

  6. While I’m sure his hand injury is painful and will take some time to heal. I don’t think it meets the definition of “mangled” like if it went through a meat grinder or snowblower chute…..

  7. $19,500 trip / 1600 lbf of moose meat = $12/pound of moose meat. A little pricey but still less than Biden era beef with the war on energy. Some folk like adventure while others stay home and bitch about some one else's business. Everyone has a job. To each their own.

    1. But Dividing Biden, the Woke Democrats, and the Mainstream Media insist that there is no inflation!

      In fact, they held a party!

      Time for a change.

  8. Not sure I understood what the pilot met when he said he should have "hit the kill switch and pulled up....."

    1. There is that clue of "OMG, we are going to hit the bank" in the story, as told about taking off from a lake with 15-foot embankments.

      Maybe cutting the power and mushing into the bank with nose up (instead of keeping power on hoping to clear the bank but getting pitchpoled) was what he meant. (Just a guess, so please don't tase me bro!) :-)