Three bodies found on the Iditarod route are believed to be the occupants of a small plane that crashed on Monday as they were on their way to participate in the dog sled race.
The plane was traveling near the route of the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which traverses the Alaskan wilderness. The bodies found on the Iditarod route were Carolyn Sorvoja, 48, and her daughter, 10-year-old Rosemarie Sorvoja. The pilot, 59-year-old Ted Smith, was also killed.
The victims were headed to a checkpoint in the Iditarod race where they hoped to volunteer, reported the Anchorage Daily News.
Authorities say they don’t know what caused the plane crash. Smith, a 30-year veteran of the Anchorage Police department who retired as a police sergeant in 2011, was said to be an experienced pilot and was a certified flight instructor. The Cessna found in the crash was registered in his name.
The wreckage is being removed by helicopter and will be transported to Alaska where it can be studied in detail to determine what caused the crash, the Anchorage Daily News noted.
They plane’s occupants had left on Monday from Anchorage and were heading to Takotna, a village about 235 miles northwest of Anchorage that is about a quarter of the way along the 1,000-mile Iditarod route, The Associated Press noted. The Iditarod race is taking place now, with mushers moving into Takotna on Tuesday.
The Cessna 182 reportedly did not have a flight plan when it left Merrill Field at closet to 10 am.
After the plane failed to touch down in Takotna, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center launched an aerial search that lasted close to eight hours. The search turned up nothing, and rescuers picked up again on Tuesday with 10 military, state trooper, and private aircraft extending the search area.
At just before 10:30 on Tuesday, the searchers spotted the bodies on the Iditarod route near the 4,000-foot level of Rainy Pass. The bodies were recovered and flown to Anchorage where autopsies were scheduled.