A plane crash in Alaska on Sunday took the lives of two South Carolina families, according to state Representative Bruce Bannister, who was friends with both families.
Those killed in the fiery crash were Melet and Kim Antonakos and their children — Ana, Mills, and Olivia. Also killed were Chris and Stacey McManus and their children, Meghan and Connor.
The pilot, who was from Alaska, was also killed. Tracy Underwood, brother-in-law to Antonakos, confirmed his family was told about the deaths on Monday. He added:
“We just request family privacy at this time. We just request that our family’s wishes be respected.We just prefer not to make any comment.”
While friends and family confirmed the victims killed in the Alaska plane crash, Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarki stated that the state’s medical examiner has not yet confirmed their identities. However, he did say that he believed the passengers were all from South Carolina.
The families were reportedly on vacation in Alaska, heading to the Bear Mountain Lodge in Chinitna Bay at the time of the accident. It is not yet clear what caused the plane to crash. However, the National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of investigators to Alaska to examine the plane crash.
The di Havilland DHC3 Otter was operated by a regionally based charter company, Rediske Air. It crashed at the airport in Soldotna, which is about 75 miles away from Anchorage. The accident happened around 11 am local time.
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss explained that the crash is considered a high priority for the agency, as the aircraft, a single-engine pontoon plane, was an air taxi. The designation makes it be held to a higher standard than a general aviation aircraft.
The six-person “go team” will spend five to eight days doing an initial ground investigation and a final report will likely take about a year to complete.
While authorities have not publicly confirmed the identity of any of those killed in the Alaska plane crash, the pilot was reportedly identified as Walter Rediske, 42, co-owner of Rediske Air. It appeared that the plane crashed on take-off.