Pilot killed in Matanuska River plane crash had moved to Alaska to pursue longtime dream

Alaska State Troopers on Friday identified the pilot who died when his plane crashed into the Matanuska River as 46-year-old Palmer resident and United States Army veteran Joshua Seagrave.

The crash occurred Thursday afternoon in the river near Mile 77 of the Glenn Highway, close to Chickaloon, Alaska State Troopers said in an online report.

Troopers responded after receiving a report of the crash just before 1 p.m. The National Transportation Safety Board also sent an investigator to the crash location.

“It is with profound sadness that I share that my son, Joshua, died in a plane crash in Alaska on Thursday,” his father, Stephen Seagrave, said in a Facebook post.

Joshua Seagrave spent 10 years as a U.S. Army Ranger and another decade as a parachute instructor based out of Arizona, his father said.

Seagrave had recently begun a new career as a bush pilot after moving to Palmer in January with his partner Jen, Seagrave’s father said in an interview.

The couple, who had been together for 15 years, had dreamed of moving to Alaska for years, his father said.


“He just loved the outdoors and doing things that nobody else had done,” Stephen Seagrave said.

Seagrave was an avid camper and hunter, and the couple had good friends who had moved to Alaska. The two quickly found a sense of home in the Palmer area, his father said.

“Josh and Jen loved their new home and their life together,” Stephen Seagrave wrote on Facebook. “He was living his dream.”

JOSHUA SEAGRAVE – February 6, 1976 to November 10, 2022 – It is with profound sadness that I share that my son, Joshua,...

Posted by Stephen Seagrave on Friday, November 11, 2022

“The only place he ever wanted to be was Alaska,” said Jose Martinez, Seagrave’s friend from Arizona, who described Seagrave as a loving and loyal friend to everyone in his life.

“Everything was an absolute adventure with (Josh and Jen),” added Colette Martinez, Jose Martinez’s wife. “Just exploring new things and trying new things.”

The last time Seagrave spoke to the couple, he showed them the videos he’d taken of himself taking off and landing with his bush plane.

“And the absolute joy that he had is the only thing that gives me solace in this,” Martinez said. “I’m grateful knowing that Josh died flying the plane in Alaska on a beautiful day. That’s where he wanted to be.”

Seagrave was the pilot and sole occupant of the Piper PA-18 Super Cub that crashed into the Matanuska River, according to NTSB Alaska chief Clint Johnson and troopers spokesperson Tim DeSpain. He was confirmed dead at the scene.

According to troopers, the pilot of another aircraft in the area at the time saw the Super Cub “hit a cable and crash.”

Johnson said Friday it was not yet clear what the cable was for, but that information would be part of the investigation into the crash.

Members of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough dive team removed the plane from the water with assistance from Matanuska Towing & Recovery, troopers said. Seagrave’s body was removed from the water and turned over to a local funeral home.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman is a reporter covering health care, education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in San Francisco before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at aberman@adn.com.