May 22 (UPI) — An Alaskan air carrier voluntarily suspended service after two fatal crashes in a week.
“We have voluntarily suspended all of our operations until further notice,” Taquan Air said in a statement on its website.
The announcement on Tuesday comes a day after a floatplane crashed into Alaska’s Metlakatla Harbor, killing the pilot and a passenger.
A week earlier, a collision between two aircraft, one operated by Taquan Air, resulted in six people dead and 10 injured.
“As you can imagine, the past 24 hours have been incredibly overwhelming and we are reeling from not only the incident yesterday, but also from last week,” the company said. “It’s been really a heavy and heartbreaking time for us.”
The suspension comes as the Metlakatla Police Department identified the deceased from Monday’s crash as pilot Ron Rash, 51, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and passenger Sarah Luna, 31, of Anchorage, Alaska.
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium said on its Facebook page that Luna, a senior epidemiologist, was in commute to Metlakatla to see patients at the local hospital when the crash occurred.
On Tuesday, the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center said the plan was attempting to land in the harbor.
“Initial eyewitness statements report that the plane flipped upon impact and quickly submerged,” it said in a press release.
Metlakatla Indian Community Mayor Karl Cook also on Tuesday extended his appreciation to those who responded to the crash and to the medical staff who attempted to resuscitate the two victims, while offering his sympathies to the victims and their families as well as to the staff of Taquan Air.
“The losses this organization has faced in the past week have been devastating,” he said in a letter. “We stand with Taquan Air, in appreciation of all this company does for South East Alaska in general, and Metlakatla in particular.”
The incident was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which sent an investigator and two Federal Aviation Administration officials to the site of the crash, the Ketchikan Emergency Operation Center said.