Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens dies in plane crash

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A plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-NASA chief Sean O'Keefe crashed into a remote mountainside in Alaska, killing the longtime senator and at least four others, authorities said Tuesday.


O'Keefe and his teenage son survived the crash with broken bones and other injuries, former NASA spokesman Glenn Mahone said. The O'Keefes spent Monday night on the mountain with several volunteers who discovered the wreckage and tended to the injured until rescuers arrived Tuesday morning.


Stevens and O'Keefe are longtime fishing buddies who had been planning a trip near where the float plane crashed.


The crash was a stunning event in a state where Stevens became the most beloved political figure in Alaska history during his 40 years in the Senate, earning a reputation as a tireless advocate for projects that brought billions of federal dollars to the state. He was 86.


The plane crashed into a brush- and rock-covered mountainside sometime Monday night, authorities said. Volunteer pilots were dispatched to the area around 7 p.m. local time after the plane was found to be overdue at its destination, and they came upon the wreckage about a half hour later.


The weather soon took a turn for the worse, with heavy fog, clouds and rain blanketing the area and making it impossible for rescuers to arrive until after daybreak Tuesday. O'Keefe, his son, and two others were flown to the hospital.


The bodies of Stevens and the other four victims remained at the scene Tuesday, investigators said at a briefing in Juneau. The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the flights at Dillingham are often perilous through the mountains, even in good weather.

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