Plane crashes on road near Wasilla, injuring pilot

A plane crashed Friday on a street in residential area of the Matanuska Valley, injuring a Palmer man.

Ken Barkley, deputy director of emergency services for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, said witnesses began reporting the crash near the intersection of North Caribou Street and East Bogard Road shortly after 11 a.m. The area is about midway between Wasilla and Palmer, north of the Parks Highway.

"It landed on Caribou off of Bogard," Barkley said. "It nosedived in — it clipped the trees, and then it nosedived in."

The occupant of the plane, which appeared to be a modified Piper Super Cub, suffered no life-threatening injuries in the crash.

Alaska State Troopers identified the injured pilot as 34-year-old Jeffrey Tuttle, saying in a dispatch he took off from a nearby airstrip just after 11 a.m.

A witness said the pilot was able to crawl from the wrecked plane. Witnesses dragged him away from the wreckage, fearful that leaking fuel would ignite.

Barkley said one of the witnesses, Anchorage Fire Department Capt. Kevin Wallace, was returning from a hunting trip and attended to Tuttle with his medical kit.

"The pilot and witnesses both reported that upon takeoff the plane appeared to have mechanical issues," troopers wrote. "(Tuttle) was not able to return to the runway and crashed nearby. Tuttle reportedly sustained serious injuries and was transported to a hospital for treatment."

According to Alaska State Trooper Derek DeGraaf, the pilot said he had trouble controlling the plane from the time it became airborne. DeGraaf said witnesses on the ground heard noise from the plane that sounded like it was having mechanical problems.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said investigator Brice Banning was looking into events of the crash Friday.