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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Maryland man visiting Alaska with his family was killed and one of his three children was critically injured Friday after their floatplane’s takeoff was aborted.
Alaska State Troopers identified the deceased man as Joseph Patenella, 57. No hometown was disclosed. The critically hurt child was flown to Anchorage for treatment, along with two other family members.
Seven people were aboard the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver at the mouth of Tutka Bay near Homer. The others who were on the floatplane appear to have non-life-threatening injuries, troopers said.
Patenella was traveling with his wife and three children as well as an adult male relative, according to officials at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. Reports initially said there were four children on board.
Hospital spokeswoman Derotha Ferraro said Patenella died before arriving at the facility.
The mother, the critically injured child and a second child were flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, Ferraro said. Their conditions were not immediately available.
“The relative remains in the Homer hospital in stable condition,” Ferraro said in a statement.
The third child and the pilot were treated and released, Ferraro said. Troopers say the pilot, Engjell Berisha, was not injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane crashed under unknown circumstances on takeoff. Coast Guard Petty Officer Amanda Norcross, however, said the manager of a nearby lodge reported the aircraft never left the water.
Troopers said a patrol boat transported all on board to Homer, where the injured people were taken to the hospital.
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
The plane is owned by Anchorage-based Rust’s Flying Service. The passengers were guests at Tutka Bay Lodge, said Bri Kelly, a spokeswoman on behalf of the flying service. She said the company has suspended its operations and is cooperating with authorities.
The company and Tutka Bay Lodge are “devastated” by the death and focusing on helping guests, family, workers and first responders, according to a joint statement.
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