No mention of mechanical issues in NTSB report on fatal Anchorage plane crash

The plane crash in downtown Anchorage late last month that killed a pilot making an unsanctioned flight in a Civil Air Patrol aircraft "incinerated" the remains of the plane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash that killed Doug Demarest, a first lieutenant in the CAP, was released Wednesday. Demarest was the pilot and sole occupant of a Cessna 172 that took off from Merrill Field before its control tower was staffed at about 6 a.m. Dec. 29.

The plane first struck the Brady Building at 1031 W. Fourth Ave., then the Carr-Gottstein Building -- also known as the whale building -- just east of the Brady. No ground injuries were reported in the crash.

Demarest's wife, Kate Demarest, worked at national legal firm Dorsey and Whitney's Anchorage office in the Brady Building. Jahna Lindemuth, a friend of Kate Demarest, later said the crash was an act of suicide.

According to the safety agency's report, witnesses saw Demarest's plane "flying in an easterly direction and very low over the city of Anchorage" moments before it clipped the Brady Building just after 6:15 a.m.

"The airplane's right wing struck the building between the fourth and fifth floors, which severed the entire wing at the fuselage attachment points," NTSB investigators wrote. "The airplane's wreckage continued traveling east while descending into (the Whale Building). It subsequently struck an electrical transformer, and a post-crash fire incinerated the airplane wreckage."

The report didn't include any discussion of potential mechanical factors associated with the crash.


Weather conditions at Merrill Field at 5:53 the morning of the crash included winds from the south at 8 knots with gusts to 18 knots, with 10 statute miles of visibility and a few clouds at 7,000 feet.

The report confirmed previous CAP descriptions of the deadly flight as unauthorized, saying the investigation is now under the "jurisdiction and control" of the Anchorage FBI office.

FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said Wednesday afternoon the bureau was awaiting several reports, including one from the State Medical Examiner's Office on an autopsy of Demarest's body, before releasing anything further on its investigation.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.