Newscast: 05/10/19 (Noon)
Note: APIA's behavioral health staff is in Unalaska to support grieving students, families, and community members. This weekend, you can reach providers by calling 359-2743. They're available over the phone, or they'll provide information on how you can make a face-to-face appointment. You can also find more information here.
KUCB produced this newscast with the latest on efforts to recover the bodies of Karly McDonald, 16, and Kiara Renteria Haist, 18, who died in a car accident Thursday on Unalaska's Mount Ballyhoo.
Coming up on KUCB News ... A rescue team is working to recover the bodies of two teenagers killed yesterday in a car accident on Mount Ballyhoo ... stay tuned.
Good afternoon. You're listening to KUCB 89.7 FM Unalaska. I'm Laura Kraegel with some local news on Friday, May 10, 2019.
Unalaska police have identified the two high school students who died yesterday in a car accident on Mount Ballyhoo -- and are now working to recover their bodies from the Ulakta Head side of the mountain.
16-year-old Karly McDonald and 18-year-old Kiara Renteria Haist were killed when a pickup truck "left the roadway and tumbled approximately 900 feet down to the shoreline below."
That's according to a statement from the Unalaska Department of Public Safety.
Police are now investigating the cause of the crash, which happened yesterday afternoon around 1:30.
They're also partnering with a mountain rescue team to recover the teenagers' remains.
Interim Police Chief John Lucking told KUCB at about 11 o’clock this morning that members of the rescue unit were just rappelling over the edge of the mountain and that he expected their efforts to take "a couple of hours."
Lucking said the rescue unit was brought by the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Kodiak, which spent the night planning their descent by sending a C-130 aircraft to assess the terrain and the location of the bodies with aerial imaging.
Lucking said the Coast Guard helicopter originally sent to help with the recovery got grounded in Cold Bay.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old high school student Dustin Ruckman survived the accident and was released from the clinic yesterday without treatment.
Police said Ruckman was driving and "lost control of the vehicle."
Their statement said -- QUOTE -- "Ruckman claimed to have been thrown from the vehicle as it descended down a steep ravine with the two girls still inside. Ruckman reported that he was able to climb back to the road ... and ran down the east side of the mountain, where he flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911." -- END QUOTE --
Police said the emergency response was difficult due to the truck's "widespread wreckage" and "the rough and extremely steep terrain."
Their statement said -- QUOTE -- "Responders searched the ravine at great personal risk from above and below for a long while looking for McDonald and Renteria Haist, before finding their bodies some distance apart where each had been thrown as the truck broke into pieces on its way down the mountain." -- END QUOTE --
Both teenagers were declared dead around 5 o’clock.
While their families were notified yesterday, Chief Lucking delayed releasing their names publicly until this morning.
He said he wanted time to speak with their classmates, who were decorating for the prom last night at the high school.
All lifelong residents of Unalaska, McDonald was a junior, Renteria Haist was a senior, and Ruckman is a senior.
School is open today, and district officials said they’re prepared to support students with a grief counseling team.
They said providers are -- QUOTE -- "available any time a student may need or want help or assistance resulting from this loss." -- END QUOTE --
Counseling resources for students, families, and other community members are also being arranged by the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence.
USAFV staff are already at the school, and three of APIA's providers are en route to Unalaska on the midday flight from Anchorage.
Unalaskans can also contact APIA's behavioral health team by calling 581-2751 or 1-844-375-2742.
I'll read those phone numbers again: 581-2751 and 1-844-375-2742.
Chief Lucking has agreed to do a full interview with KUCB when recovery efforts are complete.
We will bring you more information as it becomes available.
We'll also be posting the latest to our website -- KUCB dot ORG -- and our Facebook page.
And that's the news from Unalaska.
I'm Laura Kraegel, and you're listening to KUCB, 89.7 FM.
Please stay tuned for your local and marine weather forecasts.
This story previously stated the mountain rescue unit was sent by the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Kodiak. In fact, Kodiak Island Search and Rescue (KISAR) is a nonprofit volunteer organization that was dispatched by the Alaska State Troopers and transported to Unalaska by the Coast Guard. The transcript above has been updated with the correct information.