Investigators recover bodies, wreckage from site of Western Alaska midair plane crash

Federal investigators have recovered the bodies of five men killed in a midair plane crash Wednesday near the Western Alaska village of Russian Mission from two remote wreckage sites.

The crash of a Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 Caravan and a Piper PA-18 Super Cub operated by Renfro's Alaskan Adventures happened at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, roughly six miles north of the village of Russian Mission. 

Caravan pilot Harry Wrase, 48; Caravan passengers Steven Paul Andrew, 32, and Aaron Jay Minock, 21; Super Cub pilot Zach Babat, 44; and Super Cub passenger Jeff Burruss, 40, were killed in the crash.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board first reached the site of one of the crashed planes Thursday, and had removed all the wreckage from the two crash sites by Friday afternoon, said Clint Johnson of the NTSB's Anchorage office.

The bodies of the five men killed in the crash are now with the State Medical Examiner Office, Johnson said.

Starting Tuesday, investigators will begin reconstructing the wreckage in an effort to determine what caused the crash.

Neither plane included a "black box" data or cockpit voice recorder, but investigators will examine in-flight radar data, Johnson said.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at mtheriault@adn.com.