Bodies of 4 killed in Alaska helicopter crash are recovered from lake

Authorities in Alaska say search and rescue divers have recovered the bodies of a helicopter pilot and three scientists from the state whose plane crashed into a shallow lake last week.

Fatal helicopter crash-Lake Alaska

Document – This photo provided by North Slope Borough shows an aerial view of a shallow lake where a helicopter crashed on Alaska’s North Slope near Utqiagvik, Alaska, Thursday, July 20, 2023. Authorities say Alaskan search and rescue divers recovered the bodies of a helicopter pilot and three scientists from that state’s plane that crashed on July 23, from the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Remote North Slope, authorities said. (North Slope County via AP, File)

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Anchorage, Alaska — Authorities say Alaskan search and rescue divers recovered the bodies of a helicopter pilot and three scientists Sunday from the wreckage of their plane that crashed into a shallow lake last week in the remote North Slope.

The cause of the accident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska regional head, said the only way to lift the wreckage was to use another helicopter because it’s in the middle of one of the many lakes that dot the vast tundra.

“In Alaska, here in the fire season, commercial helicopters are expensive so we have a hard time renting helicopters to do the job,” he said Sunday.

The dead were identified by the North Slope Police Department as Ronald Daanen, 51, and Justin Germann, 27, both from Fairbanks; Tori Moore, 26, of South Bend, Indiana; and pilot Bernard “Tony” Higdon, 48, in the Arctic, Alaska.

A 1996 Bell 206 helicopter crashed Thursday while transporting Alaska Department of Natural Resources personnel as they conducted fieldwork in the area. They are members of the Geological and Geophysical Survey Department. The helicopter is owned by Maritime Helicopters.

The wreckage was found near the small coastal town of Wainwright, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Utqiagvik – the northernmost city in the United States, formerly known as Barrow. The flight originated from Utqiagvik and was scheduled to return there.

Volunteers from the Alaska Diving Search, Rescue and Recovery team arrived at the crash site around 10:45 p.m. Saturday and found the bodies around 6 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities said the plane would likely not be lifted from the middle of the 1-mile-wide (1.6 km) lake until Monday or Tuesday, due to a lack of helicopters.

Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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