Three Bodies Found In Airplane Crash On Iditarod Route

Brent Sass of Fairbanks, Alaska and his team during the 40th Iditarod
Brent Sass of Fairbanks, Alaska, takes his team toward Nome at the official restart of the 40th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, Alaska March 4, 2012.

As the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race continues, three bodies were found along the race’s route, near Rainy Pass. The bodies were found with the wreckage of a small airplane that had crashed near the route of the Iditarod, reports the Associated Press.

The 182 Cessna had crashed on Monday as it was en route to the small village of Takotna, with a population of 53, noted AP. The airplane was carrying three individuals, pilot Ted Smith, 59; Carolyn Sorvoja, 48; and Rosemarie Sorvoja, 10. All three individuals were from the same Northern Alaska community of Eagle River.

Takotna acts as a checkpoint for the 1,000 mile Iditarod race and is approximately the quarter mark of the race, noted AP. According to Anchorage Daily News, the Sovojas were planning to volunteer for the Iditarod. Takotna acts as a checkpoint for the mushers and, according to the race updates on the Iditarod website, Aaron Burmeister was the first musher to arrive at Takotna, nearly 329 miles from the start of the race, although Jake Berkowitz has surpassed him and has arrived at the next checkpoint of Ophir.

The small airplane left from Anchorage on Monday morning, around 10 a.m., and was supposed to transport the Sorvojas to Takotna before returning to Anchorage and picking up more passengers, noted AP. The trip would take approximately two hours, with the planned arrival at Takotna scheduled for noon, reported Anchorage Daily News.

A search was ordered by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center after the plane didn't return to Anchorage at 4 p.m. and was reported as overdue. Smith was equipped with a personal locator beacon as well as an emergency locator that was within the 182 Cessna, but the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system didn't pick up any signals, reported AP.

The search continued on Tuesday morning and included several search parties, including volunteer pilots and Civil Air Patrol airplanes, and the plane’s wreckage was discovered on Tuesday morning, around 10:20 a.m., near Rainy Pass, reported Anchorage Daily News. Rescuers removed the bodies from the wreckage and sent them to Anchorage for autopsies. The cause of the crash is unknown and experts from Cessna will arrive on Wednesday to collect parts of the wreckage for examination, reported Anchorage Daily News. 

Join the Discussion