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.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Three cruise ships are docked along Juneau’s waterfront on the evening on May 10, as a Princess cruise ship on the right is departing the capital city. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Sitka residents join those in Juneau proposing hard caps on cruise ships as tourism grows

Two ballot measures could be presented to local voters in the two Southeast Alaska towns this fall

James Whistler, 8, operates a mini excavator during Gold Rush Days on Saturday, June 17, 2023. People young and old were offered a chance to place tires around traffic cones and other challenges after getting a brief introduction to the excavator. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
There’s good reason to be extra charged up for this year’s Juneau Gold Rush Days

Digital registration for logging/mining competitors new for 32nd annual event this weekend.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Most Read