Troopers: Pilot Didn’t Call 9-1-1 From Crash

by Daysha Eaton on August 13, 2015

The plane was recovered from an area of mudflats. Photo by Devin Kelly/Alaska Dispatch News.

The plane was recovered from an area of mudflats. Photo by Devin Kelly/Alaska Dispatch News.

UPDATED: 8/14, 10:20 a.m. – Alaska State Troopers have released more information about their investigation into what happened with an emergency phone they believe came from pilot Seth Fairbanks after his Supercub crashed into Cook Inlet around midnight August 6th. Troopers launched an investigation into the initial call after receiving scrutiny about the timeline of the call and response, says Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters.

“It appears that the phone call was actually made from a satellite phone and instead of it being a 9-1-1 call, it was actually a call to the main number for the Bethel Alaska State Trooper Post, which is a non-emergency line. After hours that line is automatically transferred to Fairbanks dispatch,” said Peters.

A Piper PA-18 Supercub, which crashed into Knik Arm near the Birchwood, AK airport, is transported to a facility where it will be examined. Photo by Bob Hallinen/Alaska Dispatch News.

A Piper PA-18 Supercub, which crashed into Knik Arm near the Birchwood, AK airport, is transported to a facility where it will be examined. Photo by Bob Hallinen/Alaska Dispatch News.

Peters says the non-emergency call went into the Bethel post at 11:54 p.m. As of July 1st, after-hour phone calls in the Bethel region are automatically routed to the Alaska State Trooper dispatch center in Fairbanks.

“The call lasted for about 69 seconds after it was rolled over to the Fairbanks post where dispatchers were able to talk to Mr. Fairbanks before the phone died. After that phone call ended at 23:55 the dispatch center in Fairbanks contacted Mat-com and Mat-com was able to get clarifying information from them and then contact RCC which, very fortunately had resources in the air and they were able to divert those,” said Peters.

Seven minutes after the initial call, at two minutes past midnight, the dispatch center in Wasilla called the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) who rerouted C-17 aircraft. Authorities close to the crash site were notified at 12:08. RCC contacted a helicopter crew to prepare for a flight, which launched at approximately 1:18 a.m.

No other calls were made from the satellite phone, according to Troopers. There was no caller identification or number for a call back.

29-year-old Fairbanks, and 23-year-old Anthony Hooper, both of McGrath are still missing and presumed dead. The two men were on their way to a wedding reception in Anchorage from McGrath.

A service for Fairbanks is set for Bethel Friday, August 15.

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