ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Three of the five plane crash victims stranded on Knik Glacier were airlifted to Palmer Tuesday night.
The good news comes after efforts to reach the stranded sightseers hit a snag Tuesday afternoon when a Black Hawk rescue helicopter crashed into the glacier.
The Black Hawk crash left an Air National Guard rescue team is stranded on Knik Glacier after attempting to rescue a group of five stranded since Sunday afternoon.
According to a press release from Maj. Guy Hayes, the rescue team’s Black Hawk Helicopter was severely damaged after sliding and rolling over on the glacier. The three crew members on board the helicopter are uninjured.
The rescue team crashed near the site and was able to reach the group.
Additional rescue teams have been dispatched to the area.
Crews have been working since Sunday night to get the plane, which crashed around noon on Sunday. Rescue crews were able to reach the group by ski late Monday night with survival supplies. The group was stranded without any survival supplies for over 30 hours.
An Air National Guard helicopter tried to reach the site twice Tuesday. It got within three miles before it was forced to turn around.
Rescue crews face blizzard like conditions, and strong winds. It took three para-rescue men and a combat rescue officer over a day to ski three miles to the survivors. They arrived with enough supplies for two days.
On Tuesday they were able to recover two more days of supplies that were dropped off earlier.
The pilot, 49-year-old Donald Erbey, was flying four family friends from Texas.
According to Master Sgt. Chad Moore of the Air National Guard, with this rescue mission and the crash near Dillingham, rescue crews are stretched thin.
“We are, because we have additional training that is going on this week. That kind of takes a back burner. So really, it's just kind of juggling the crews out there and also supporting that because we're facing pretty bad weather out there right now,” said Moore.
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