Updated 10/18/19 at 3:40 a.m.
Two passengers were critically injured — and 10 others received some level of medical attention — after a PenAir airplane arriving from Anchorage went off the runway at Unalaska's airport on Thursday evening, according to PenAir officials.
"PenAir Flight 3286 (marketed by Alaska Airlines) departed Anchorage for Dutch Harbor and upon landing at approximately 5:40 p.m. went off the end of the runway," said a PenAir statement released around 11 p.m. "We have been informed that two passengers were critically injured and ten others are receiving medical care in Unalaska. All others passengers are being cared for."
There were 39 passengers and three crew members on the flight, according to PenAir.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our passengers and crew, and the family members of everyone with loved ones on this flight," said PenAir CEO Dave Pflieger in the statement.
PenAir officials said the airline, which is owned by Ravn Air Group, "is in close contact and fully cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which will be investigating this accident."
NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway confirmed the inquiry in an email, sharing a Twitter post by the agency: "NTSB sending team of 9 to Unalaska, AK to investigate Oct. 17, 2019, accident involving Peninsula Air #3296, Saab SB20, that overran runway on landing."
"The team's exact arrival [date] is unknown at this time," added Holloway.
Airline officials also said: "PenAir and Ravn have established a family assistance line for everyone who has loved ones on this flight. Please call 1-800-757-4784 if you need any additional information."
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
-- -- -- Earlier story, updated at 10/17/19 at 10:50 p.m. -- -- --
Multiple passenger injuries were reported after a PenAir airplane arriving from Anchorage went off the runway at Unalaska's airport on Thursday evening.
The extent of those injuries was unclear, as was the reason the Saab 2000 did not stop at the end of the runway.
As police officers, fire personnel, and emergency medical service providers responded to the scene, Interim Police Chief John Lucking declined to answer questions while the response was underway. But when Mayor Frank Kelty asked him if there were any casualties, Lucking said "no" shortly after 6 p.m.
An ambulance was seen leaving the airport for the clinic with its lights flashing at 6 p.m. Then, between 6 and 6:40 p.m., three more people were taken out of the airport on stretchers and away in ambulances. All three of those people were conscious and sitting upright, with at least one holding an ice pack.
City Manager Erin Reinders was at the airport when the Thursday evening flight arrived, carrying 39 passengers and three crew members. She said the plane came from the west side of Mount Ballyhoo, which stands above the runway with water on either side.
"We watched one [landing] attempt, and it was going with the wind, [approaching] from the Hog Island side," said Reinders. "Then it went back up [for] a second attempt. It went with the wind again. It did land, so all the wheels were on the ground. And then it wasn't stopping. It was slowing down, and it was apparent that it was slowing down, but it wasn't stopping."
While the plane appeared to slow down as it traveled the length of the runway, it didn't come to a stop until its nose tipped over the edge of a rocky embankment just above the waters of Iliuliuk Bay, near the intersection of Airport Beach and Ballyhoo Roads.
"I don't know if it was coming [too] fast or if it wasn't able to break or if there was a gust," said Reinders. "That stuff — it wasn't readily apparent."
Reinders said all passengers and airline crew on the flight manifest were accounted for, according to a report by first responders.
As a coach for Unalaska's school swim team and leader at the United Methodist Church, Reinders was at the airport to welcome the flight, which brought Cordova's swim team for a meet, as well as speaker Heath Day, who's scheduled to lead a teen workshop at the church on Saturday.
She said responders had confirmed that Day and all of the visiting students and chaperones were physically safe, though shaken.
A spokesperson for PenAir and Ravn Air Group, which bought PenAir in 2018, declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday around 9:10 p.m.
"We don't have anything to release at this time," said spokesperson Debbie Reinwand. "I'm working with the Ravn emergency operations center right now."
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what happened.
"We are currently gathering information about the accident and should have more information [in the] morning," said NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway in an email around 10:30 p.m.
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately respond to KUCB's request for comment on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, three passengers on the flight told KUCB that there was intense turbulence as they approached Unalaska and that the plane seemed to be moving very fast. Asked if the pilots made any announcements at that time, one passenger said they did not.
Kelty said he saw the pilots apparently unharmed and outside of the airport after the landing. He said they went to the police station to give interviews to the authorities.
A photograph taken by Unalaska resident Megan Thomson-Dean (above) showed a LifeMed Alaska medevac flight arriving at the airport after the landing. It's unclear if anyone on the PenAir flight has been medevaced off the island.
The extent of damage to the PenAir plane is also unclear. Some photographs circulating on social media showed an apparent dent and broken window on the Saab 2000's left side.
Unalaska's Department of Public Safety announced the closure of roads near the plane in an announcement released at 6:09 p.m. The notice asked the community to avoid the area along Airport Beach Road between Delta Way and Tundra Drive.
The department also asked the community to avoid using cell phones while the response was underway.
"Public Safety is currently responding to an emergent incident and phone lines need to be cleared during such," said another announcement released at 5:24 p.m. "We ask for your cooperation during this time."
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.