Aviation

NTSB: Pilot described ‘loss of control’ in Matanuska River crash survived by family, including 7-month-old

The pilot of a small plane that crashed into the Matanuska River last weekend carrying another adult and a 7-month-old baby told investigators that he experienced a loss of control while landing.

All three people in the plane — members of the same family — survived the crash of the Piper PA-18 on Saturday evening near Glacier View. Numerous people provided help during a dramatic scene that followed.

One person suffered serious injuries, authorities said Tuesday. Two others had minor injuries. No additional information was available.

Alaska State Troopers identified the adults as 27-year-old Logan Snyder and 26-year-old Nichole Snyder, both from Wasilla. Logan Snyder was the pilot.

Snyder declined to be interviewed for this story.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

In a preliminary interview Tuesday, Snyder told an NTSB investigator “that while landing at an off-airport location near Glacier View and while on approach over the Matanuska River he experienced a loss of control” before the plane hit the water, said Clint Johnson, the agency’s Alaska chief.

Almost 100 people were close by, including several who were part of a zipline tour and others who had been attending a nearby gathering.

A number of the witnesses “immediately responded” to help as the airplane began sinking into the river, Alaska State Troopers said.

Brett Winterbottom, working the zip-lining tour for MICA Guides, told the Daily News he spotted the overturned plane floating down the glacial river as he rounded a corner. The Snyders were huddled on one of the tires, Winterbottom said. Logan Snyder had the baby in his arms.

Then, he said, Snyder jumped from the plane and began swimming against the current, holding the baby above the water with one hand until he reached a shallow spot where he could stand.

Winterbottom, who had forded into the river, met Snyder there and took the baby from him before linking arms and moving to shore. He passed the 7-month-old to a nurse, Tammy Saunders, who was part of a zip-lining group.

Nichole Snyder, who had also jumped from the plane, swam through the river to the opposite side, where helicopter pilot and Sheep Mountain Lodge owner Mark Fleenor picked her up and brought her back.

Nichole Snyder and the baby were medevaced to an Anchorage hospital, troopers said.

An update on their conditions was not immediately available Tuesday.

Troopers expressed gratitude to “the citizens who provided immediate rescue efforts” to the family.

“I don’t know if the outcome would have been as good if there wasn’t so many people there to help in the situation,” Winterbottom said. “I was just one of many who made that miraculous rescue happen.”

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow is a general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Oregon and spent the summer of 2019 as a reporting intern on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post. Contact her at mkrakow@adn.com.

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