A 1996 Bell 206 helicopter, owned by Maritime Helicopters, crashed on July 20, 2023 near Utqiagvik while transporting staff from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources while they conducted fieldwork in the area. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
On July 22, 2023, at approximately 10:45 pm, volunteers from the Alaska Dive Search, Rescue, and Recovery Team arrived at the crash site and began assessing the site. On July 23, 2023, at approximately 6 am, the dive team with the assistance of the North Slope Borough Police Department and Search and Rescue Team, recovered the bodies of four adults from the helicopter wreckage site located in a tundra lake approximately 50 miles outside of Utqiagvik. The bodies were flown back to Utqiagvik and identified by the North Slope Police Department as: 51-year-old Fairbanks resident Ronald Daanen, 27-year-old Fairbanks resident Justin Germann, 26-year-old South Bend, Indiana resident Tori Moore, and 48-year-old pilot and North Pole resident Bernard “Tony” Higdon.
Efforts to remove the wreckage from the lake are underway. The bodies of the deceased are being sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy. Next of kin has been notified.