Preliminary report on Alaska plane crash near McGrath released

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
An aerial view of a Cessna 207 that crashed on Aug. 13, 2011.
Alaska State Troopers photo
The crash killed pilot Ernie Chase and Anvik elementary school teacher Julia Walker.
Alaska State Troopers photo
Four people survived the crash; all were members of the Evans family.
Alaska State Troopers photo
The survivors were Don Evans, 32 years old, Rosemary Evans, also 32, and their children Donny, 10, and McKenzie, 8.
Alaska State Troopers photo
A Cessna 207 crashed near McGrath on Aug. 13, 2011, killing Anvik schoolteacher Julia Walker and pilot Ernie Chase. A family of four survived the crash.
Alaska State Troopers photo
The cause of the crash is still being determined.
Alaska State Troopers photo

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the Aug. 13 plane crash near McGrath that killed two and injured four others and points to "whiteout conditions" as the possible cause of the accident.

According to the report, one of the survivors, Don Evans, was sitting in the front passenger seat of the aircraft, en route to the small Alaska community of Anvik after leaving McGrath a little after 7:00 p.m. Saturday. According to Evans' statement, about 20 minutes into the flight, the weather began to worsen, with clouds, fog, and rain settling in. The pilot of the Cessna 207, 66-year-old Ernie Chase, reportedly told Evans "this is getting pretty bad," before descending in the plane, coming back up, and descending again.

From the report:

The next thing (Evans)  recalled  was  looking  out  the  front  windscreen,  and  just before impact, seeing the mountainside  suddenly  appear  out of the fog. He said that all of the survivors lost consciousness during the impact, and he was the first to regain consciousness.

As previously reported, after coming to, Evans hit the 911 button on Chase's SPOT transmitter, which notified Chase's family and Inland Air co-owner Steve Hill, who was able to direct other aircraft to attempt to make contact with the now-missing plane. The report states that the FAA issued an alert notice for the missing aircraft around 10 p.m., and an Air Force C-130 dispatched to the area was able to pick up the signal from the plane's 121.5 MHz-frequency Electronic Locator Transmitter, but "poor weather prohibited searchers from reaching the site until the next morning."

Anvik elementary school teacher Julia Walker died in the crash, along with the pilot Ernie Chase. The survivors were all members of the Evans family: husband and wife Don and Rosemary Evans, and their two children, Donny and McKenzie. The four survivors of the crash were due to begin their first year of classes at the Blackwell School in Anvik, Don and Rosemary as joint teachers, and Donny and McKenzie as students.