Updated: The names of all passengers in the aircraft collision in Soldotna this morning have been released. All seven have died.
Troopers identified Rep. Gary Knopp, age 67, of Kenai, as the sole occupant of one plane. The six decedents from the other aircraft are identified as Pilot Gregory Bell, age 57 of Soldotna; Guide David Rogers, age 40 of Kansas; Caleb Hulsey, age 26, of South Carolina; Heather Hulsey, age 25 of South Carolina; Mackay Hulsey, age 24, of South Carolina; Kirstin Wright, age 23, of South Carolina.
At approximately 8:27 am hours Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna received a report of a plane crash near mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway.
The majority of the wreckage was located approximately two hundred yards from the road. The crash was reported by multiple witnesses. AST, AWT, Soldotna Police Department, Central EMS, State Parks and FAA all responded to the crash site.
Investigation determined that two planes were involved in a mid-air collision; one plane had a single occupant, Gary Knopp, and the other aircraft had six people onboard.
NTSB has been notified and will be conducting the investigation as to the cause of this crash.
“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. The DPS sends a heartfelt condolence to all who lost a loved one in this mid-air collision,” said Commissioner Amanda Price, Department of Public Safety. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”
Must Read Alaska has confirmed that Rep. Gary Knopp was the pilot of a plane involved in a midair plane crash this morning in Soldotna. Seven souls were lost in the collision.
The governor has released statements of condolences for the families.
Knopp, a representative from District 30, was piloting his own plane. The other was a charter air service “High Adventure Air” based out of Longmere Lake, with several on board.
The planes collided over Mayoni Street, close to mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway. The highway was closed for a time but is now open and Troopers are on the scene.
Knopp, who represents District 30, reportedly owns a PA 12, also called a Piper Super Cruiser. The other plane was a Beaver on floats, according to MRAK sources. The parts of the planes were barely visible from Mayoni Street, a dirt road.
Central Peninsula Hospital confirmed one person arrived by ambulance; that person later died.
High Adventure Air has an excellent reputation for communicating their location and intentions for air traffic. Their base of operations is about two miles from the Soldotna air strip at Longmere Lake.
This is a breaking story. Check back for more information.