ANCHORAGE, Alaska — People at GCI’s fish camp near Dillingham waited several hours on Monday for former Sen. Ted Stevens and his companions to join them for a fishing trip -- but he never arrived. One of them took what is perhaps the last photograph of Stevens before he died.
The lodge visit was an annual trip, upon which Stevens is said to have been happy, charming and ready for fishing.
Fishing guide Byron Orth was the last person to fish with the some of the group killed during Monday's plane crash.
“I mean, they were talking about coming back even before we even got off the boat that day, so we knew they really wanted to come,” Orth said.
Orth says Dana Tindall -- who also died in the crash along with her daughter Corey -- took a photo of him with Stevens on Sunday.
“It’s kind of like our extended family, because we see the same people year in and year out,” Orth said.
On Monday, Orth waited for the group to return to fish again. Hours went by, but nobody arrived.
“We got ready to go fishing and they just never showed up, and we assumed they didn't come because of the bad weather,” Orth said. “And about 7, the guy at the lodge who coordinates the events called and asked if they'd left, and at that time we told them they never showed up.”
“It’s been a very interesting summer -- it ended like a nightmare, but thankful I got to met the senator,” said lodge cook Cindy Mathis.
Mathis says the night before the crash, the group spent the evening relaxing.
“They were all playing cards with the young kids and they were having a great time, and I brought them hot chocolate,” Mathis said.
Like everyone else, she was concerned when she realized the plane hadn't arrived at the fish camp.
“It was like, just, ‘Please please let them have turned back or let them have landed somewhere,’” Mathis said.
But it didn't turn out like Mathis had hoped. Five were dead, four more were injured -- and a state was changed forever.
“It’s hearing about his history; people are really missing him, but not only him but Corey and Dana and the others, all of them – it’s just a big loss,” Mathis said.
A memorial Mass is being held for Stevens at 12:10 p.m. Monday at the Holy Family Cathedral in Downtown Anchorage.
A spokesperson for Stevens’ family said that Stevens will be lying in repose Tuesday at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The official service for Stevens will be held Wednesday at the Anchorage Baptist Temple, starting at 2 p.m.
Contact Rebecca Palsha at firstname.lastname@example.org