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APD Names 2 People Killed in Merrill Field Plane Crash

August 24, 2013|By Samantha Angaiak and Austin Baird | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage police have identified the two people killed in a crash at Merrill Field shortly before 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

According to APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro, the two victims of the crash were Robert Lilly, 31, and Jessi Nelsen, 27. Their next of kin have been notified.

National Transportation Safety Board inspectors were at the scene of the Cessna 150L's crash Sunday, with investigator Josh Cawthra saying an air traffic controller at Merrill Field had cleared the plane to land on runway 25, before the aircraft aborted its approach for a "go-around" to reattempt the landing. The crash occurred during that second attempt.

George LaMoreaux was on the airfield at the time of the crash. LaMoreaux and two other men hurdled the fence and attempted to save the victims before emergency responders arrived, he said.


"I hollered at them to get me fire extinguishers, we need fire extinguishers," he said. "We went rifling through these other planes that are on the sidelines and found one. They gave it to me, then I used that, but it was still on fire."

The flames were eventually extinguished, and Lilly and Nelsen were pulled from the plane. Both victims were taken to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Friends and family of the victims say they were an unmarried couple, who constantly flew around the state and enjoyed traveling together. Nelsen, a longshoreman in Seward, was about to take a flying job next week.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, and the purpose of the flight is unclear. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association describes the 150L as a single-engine fixed wing plane, which has been one of the most commonly used model of trainer aircraft for the past three decades.

The aircraft is registered to a single owner, a Big Lake man, but it is unclear who was flying the plane.

Cawthra says plans have been made to move the aircraft's wreckage to a hangar Sunday afternoon.

Update includes the identities of the two victims killed in the crash.

Contact: Samantha Angaiak Articles