7 killed As Planes Collide in Alaska

Seven people, including the Alaska state lawmaker, died on Friday when two small aircraft crashed in midair near Soldotna airport, a remote town on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska State Troopers said that State Rep. Gary Knopp, 67, of Kenai, was the lone occupant of a single plane. The other plane was flown by a local pilot and contained a guide from Kansas and four people from South Carolina, reports AP.

“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price said. “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.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a deadly crash that happened shortly before 8:30 a.m.

Rita Geller, who works at a golf course near the airport, said she began running when she noticed the planes land, seeing one crash to the ground.

“I ran to more of clearing and basically saw it explode,” she told the Anchorage Daily News. “The engine, things were flying off of it. I didn’t see the second plane, but I saw a lot of debris flying around. It was horrific. It was just like 9/11.”

Troopers say that six of the seven victims were found dead on the site of the crash. The seventh person died while being transported to a hospital.


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