February 6th tragedy struck when a commercial aircraft carrying four passengers and the pilot went down near the village of Tuntutuliak, all five are deceased.
At about 1342 hours, Bethel Alaska State Troopers was notified of an overdue Yute Commuter aircraft that was traveling from Bethel to Kipnuk with one pilot and four passengers onboard. At 1350 hours, the plane was located crashed approximately 12 miles southwest of Tuntutuliak. RCC launched a Blackhawk from Bethel to the scene and confirmed that all five aboard are deceased.
Emergency crews responded to the crash site.
On 2/6/2020, one decedent was able to be recovered from the scene. On 2/7/2020, four Troopers, volunteers with Tuntutuliak, personnel and extraction gear from the Bethel Fire Department and personnel from the NTSB responded to the crash site to recover the remaining decedents.
Temperatures were approximately -40 degrees during the recovery effort. In addition to the decedents, at the request of the United States Postal Service, Troopers recovered multiple bags of mail that the plane was transporting.
Yute Commuter Service released the name of the pilot that perished in the plane accident on February 7th. Tony Matthews was flying the Piper PA-32R from Bethel to Kipnuk that crashed at approximately 11 a.m. The four passengers on board were all from Kipnuk.
The decedents were sent to the SME’s office in Anchorage for positive identification and next of kin will be appraised prior to AST releasing the names of those involved.
The Alaska State Troopers would like to thank all the volunteer searchers that participated in the search and recovery effort and to our partner agencies, including the Federal Department of Fish and Wildlife which provided an aircraft to help transport personnel and gear. The two troopers that responded to the scene traveled via snowmachine back to Bethel Post.
Condolences to the Yute Commuter family and to the families of the four passengers.