ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A contracted helicopter carrying guides and guests from a lodge on a heli-skiing trip in Alaska’s backcountry crashed, killing the pilot and four others, including the Czech Republic’s richest man .
The only other person was in critical condition Sunday at an Anchorage hospital in Alaska State Troopers, but was stable.
The five killed in Saturday’s accident were identified as 56-year-old Petr Kälner and 50-year-old Benjamin LaRouchics of the Czech Republic; Gregory Harms of Colorado, 52; And two Alaskans, Shine McManney, 38, of Girdwood and the pilot, Zachary Russell, 33, of Anacres, said Sunday.
Company spokesman Mary Ann Pruitt said the five passengers included three guests and two guides from Tordillo Mountain Lodge.
According to Forbes 2020 list of the world’s richest people, Keller was a businessman with assets of more than $ 17 billion.
Kelner holds a 98.93% stake in the international investment company PPF Group. The group operates in 25 countries in Europe, Asia and North America with assets of $ 52 billion (EUR 44 billion). PPF Group confirmed Kelner’s death.
Kellner and Larochaix were “loyal and frequent guests at the lodge”, Pruitt said in an email to The Associated Press.
Hammes was a leading heli-ski guide in Alaska and worked at the lodge for many years, Pruitt said. “Greg was one of the most experienced guides in the business,” she said. He also founded a heli-ski company that led trips around the world.
He stated that McMannie was a guide for more than 10 years, and was with the lodge for the last five. He was also an avalanche instructor and an experienced hill guide on Denali, the highest peak in North America.
Prussell said Russell was a pilot for Soloy Helicopters, a Vasilla-based company that is contracted by the lodge to provide transportation.
“This news is disastrous for our employees, the community it operates and the families of the deceased,” said a statement issued by the lodge.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Eurocopter AS50 crashed under unknown circumstances about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Anchorage at 6:35 pm on Saturday. Authorities said the crash site was near Naik Glacier.
The lodge is located about 60 miles northwest of Anchorage on Lake Lake. The company’s website presents itself as the longest operating heli-skiing lodge in Alaska, promising deep powder, which runs through some of the world’s best mountainous areas. The website states, “A unique Alpine adventure is only a helicopter ride.” Packages start at $ 15,000 per person.
The lodge’s statement said it was the first time in 17 years in the business “we have encountered the phenomenon of this measure.”
Soloy Helicopters has a fleet of 19 helicopters providing charter service, primarily in Alaska.
Its website states that it aids the government and industry in working for seismic oil drilling exploration programs. Solloy helicopters did not immediately respond to an email to The Associated Press containing Sunday’s comment.
Alaska State Troopers said in a statement Sunday that they were informed of the location of the wreckage of a miniature helicopter and possible crash Saturday night.
The troops wrote, a rescue team from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was sent to the crash site of Naik Glacier shortly after 10 o’clock. The team arrived to find the five occupants dead and the only survivors, who were rushed to the hospital.
Volunteers from the Alaska Army National Guard and Alaska Mountain Rescue Group recovered the bodies from the crash site on Sunday and replaced them as the state’s medical examiner.
Troopers said a temporary flight ban above the glacier has been lifted.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.