Lituya Bay, pictured, is the site of a Friday helicopter crash that resulted in three people missing. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued one survivor, a 14-year-old boy. (Courtesy Photo | Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC via Flickr)

Lituya Bay, pictured, is the site of a Friday helicopter crash that resulted in three people missing. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued one survivor, a 14-year-old boy. (Courtesy Photo | Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA/NMFS/AKFSC via Flickr)

Search suspended for helicopter crash victims

Anchorage boy identified as survivor, three still missing

After a day and a half of searching, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Sunday for three potential survivors of a helicopter crash near Lituya Bay, according to a Coast Guard release.

Alaska State Troopers identified the missing as 53-year-old Palmer resident David King, 42-year-old Anchorage resident Joshua Pepperd and 11-year-old Anchorage resident Andrew Pepperd. One survivor, 14-year-old Anchorage resident Aiden Pepperd, was found by the Coast Guard, according to the Troopers dispatch.

The Coast Guard, Alaska Air National Guard, SEADOGS and Civil Air Patrol searched a total of 788 square miles in 36 hours in the area of Lituya Bay, which is about 115 miles west of Juneau on the coast of the Gulf of Alaska. Aiden Pepperd showed signs of mild hypothermia when he was picked up, according to a Coast Guard release, and Capt. Darran J. McLenon, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District, said in an updated release that Aiden was still in an Anchorage hospital being evaluated.

“The Coast Guard prays for his full recovery and grieves with the family and friends of the crash victims,” McLenon said in the release.

Watchstanders in the Coast Guard 17th District command center in Juneau received word that the aircraft was overdue at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, according to a release Saturday. Air Station Sitka launched a helicopter crew at 8:15 p.m. Friday and searched the area near the last signal from the helicopter’s GPS locater. The crew located Aiden about 3 miles east of Lituya Bay, the release stated.

SEADOGS searchers found debris from the helicopter scattered along the shoreline and in the water south of Lituya Bay, according to the Troopers dispatch. Search efforts Sunday began at about 7 a.m., with a Coast Guard helicopter, a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Carco from Ketchikan and two SEADOGS teams, according to the Troopers dispatch.

The helicopter that crashed was brand-new out of the factory, and was flying from Grand Prairie, Texas to Wasilla, according to the Coast Guard release. The pilot had 40 years of experience, the release stated.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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