LifeMed Plane Crashes On Takeoff From Unalaska Airport

Jan 16, 2020

The S/V Makushin Bay on scene after a LifeMed medevac King Air plane crashed and sank off the runway at the Unalaska Airport on Thursday morning. All three LifeMed crew members were rescued.
Credit Megan Dean

Updated 01/16/20 at 11 a.m.

The LifeMed medevac King Air plane that crashed off the runway at the Unalaska Airport this morning was headed to Adak to medevac a patient.

No patients were on board with the three-person LifeMed crew at the time of the crash.

"While taking off for a routine medical transport this morning, our aircraft experienced an unknown issue which forced an emergency water landing," said LifeMed Alaska CEO Russ Edwards. "Through skill, training and composure, our pilot and two crew members were able to safely evacuate from the aircraft with minimal injuries. We are extremely grateful for this outcome and are reminded that our profession requires constant vigilance and focus on safety."

The plane has sunk and is currently discharging jet fuel, according to the local MSD Coast Guard. MSD said they are in contact with the owner of the aircraft, Aero Air, to activate pollution remediation. The local unit is in charge of that effort.

Acting city manager Marjie Veeder said the city's emergency responders – including the Unalaska Fire Department, EMS, and public safety personnel – worked quickly.  

"The crash was at about 8 a.m this morning and the 911 call came in at 8:04," said Veeder. "Our dispatchers immediately dispatched the ports vessel Tidebreaker to the scene, and the three persons on board the plane – who were all LifeMed crew and no patients – had self-evacuated to a life raft. They were transferred to the Tidebreaker at 8:24 a.m. So within 24 minutes of the crash, and within 20 minutes of the 911 call, all three people on board the plane were in the ports vessel on the way to the Carl E. Moses harbor."

The two ambulances arrived at the clinic by 8:55 a.m.

"The condition of the crew is not available at this time, but they are being transported to Anchorage for further evaluation," said Veeder.

LifeMed has confirmed another air carrier was able to pick up the patient in Adak.

The runway was reopened at around 9 a.m., but the waters remain closed to vessel traffic between the northwest end of the runway and Hog Island. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified and will handle the investigation into the crash. Operations at LifeMed Alaska have been temporarily suspended. The cause of crash is still unknown.

KUCB will continue reporting on the LifeMed plane crash and its aftermath. 

Credit Courtesy LifeMed

Original Story from 01/16/20 at 10 a.m.

The City of Unalaska has confirmed a LifeMed plane crashed on takeoff this morning around 8 a.m. from the Unalaska Airport. The plane is in the water between the runway and Hog Island.

The cause of crash is still unknown.

"All three passengers on board have been evacuated to the city's Port vessel, the Tidebreaker," said acting city manager Marjie Veeder in a statement.

The plane passengers have been transported via ambulance to Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic. 

The waters have been closed to vessel traffic between the northwest end of the runway and Hog Island. 

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.