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2 survive ditching and sinking of plane off Ketchikan

Both crew members on a plane that ditched in waters near Ketchikan on Friday morning were able to escape with only minor injuries, according to federal officials.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said the plane went down shortly after 8 a.m., when it failed to land at the Ketchikan airport during an instrument approach in snow showers. The aircraft set down off Annette Island.

Noreen Price, the NTSB investigator assigned to the incident, said that the Beech 18 — a twin-engine propeller plane operated by Washington-based Point to Point Air — was on a flight from Klawock to Ketchikan at the time of the landing. No passengers were on board, Price said the company told her.

Alaska State Troopers identified the crew members as 68-year-old pilot Steven Hewitt of Seattle and 23-year-old Grant Hasting of Auburn, Washington.

"On the radio, the crew reported that they had an engine failure during that missed approach," Price said. "They could not maintain altitude and they made an emergency landing."

The plane went into the water near a cove south of the village of Metlakatla, just off Annette Island, troopers said.

After the Beech ditched, Hewitt and Hasting got out and swam 200 yards to shore as the aircraft sank. A rescue boat from Metlakatla picked up the crew.

The U.S. Coast Guard also sent a Ketchikan-based response boat and a Sitka-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the scene, according to a statement from the service. The Metlakatla boat crew took the plane's occupants to a clinic in Metlakatla for care.

Hewitt and Hasting were treated for minor injuries and released, troopers said.

Weather in the area included winds at 34 mph, 6-foot seas and "restricted visibility," the Coast Guard statement said.

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