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Plane crash investigation continues

June 03, 2010
  • Witnesses say they saw the plane clip the top of the Ingra House. (Daniel Hernandez/KTUU-DT)
Witnesses say they saw the plane clip the top of the Ingra House. (Daniel Hernandez/KTUU-DT)

by Christine Kim
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The investigation continued Wednesday of an aircraft that hit a vacant auto center, killing a 4-year-old boy and leaving four others injured.

The crash occurred Tuesday night at 7th Avenue and Ingra Boulevard around 5:00 p.m.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, witness accounts show that the Cessna aircraft had trouble from the start.

After it departed off of Runway 25 at Merrill Field, witnesses on the streets claim they could hear that something was wrong.

Witness accounts state the plane was unstable and flying nose-up. It clipped the east side of the Ingra House roof, and then crashed into the vacant auto center.

"That's when we knew that it was bad and saw it fly into the power lines here that building and we all grabbed fire extinguishers ran over and tried to assist them," said Brian Caton, one of the first on the scene to help victims.

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According to Jennifer Rodi of the NTSB, the plane "reached maybe 14 to 20 feet above the ground and looked to be laboring as it was climbing out."

Police identified the plane's occupants as 34-year-old Preston Cavner, who was the pilot; his wife, Stacie; and their two sons, Myles and Hudson.

According to police, 4-year-old Myles was pinned in the aircraft and died.

Also onboard was an employee of the Cavner's lodge at Port Alsworth, 16-year-old Rachel Zientak, of Texas.

The four survivors have been transferred to hospitals in the Lower 48. 

Zientak was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where a spokesperson said she is in serious but stable condition. They say she was conscious and alert when brought in and is expected to recover.

The Cavners were taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland Oregon. 

"I know mostly my sister's condition and she's been burned 49 percent of her body. Third degree burns on her arms and legs… Her legs, below the knees," said Eric Julian, Stacie Cavner's brother.

Witnesses say people in neighboring buildings were first on scene.

Dozens of people came to help extricate the passengers, even as the plane was bursting into flames.

"There's 20 people, just everyday average Joes, picking up the wing trying to get these people out," said Caton.

The NTSB has said that investigators will continue examining the wreck. Investigators intend to find out if design or structural issues contributed to the accident. That also includes the pilot's training and the environment.

According to the NTSB, an initial report will be out in the next few days, but finding out the cause of the accident could take months and will have to be reviewed.

The remains of the aircraft are in Wasilla where the recovery company is located. 

Contact Christine Kim at ckim@ktuu.com.

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