Wrangell-St. Elias National Park plane crash rescue shifts…


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – Search and rescue teams who located the wreckage of a Beechcraft Bonanza B-36 in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park earlier this week are now focusing their efforts on recovery.

An email from the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve stated that the decision to shift from rescue to recovery was made due to “difficult terrain, extremely remote location, and developing winter conditions.”

The email also said “it is expected that recovery efforts may take an extended period of time”.

The plane, which departed the Glennallen area at 8:50 a.m. on Sunday Aug. 27, carried 59-year-old Clayton McMartin and 58-year-old Melissa McMartin of Roanoke, Texas. Alaska State Troopers issued a dispatch about the overdue plane later that day.

The following evening, a U.S. Coast Guard team on an HC-130 based in Kodiak located the wreckage of the Beechcraft on Mt. Leeper, approximately 40 miles west of Mt. Saint Elias. The Coast Guard crew described the area as “heavily glaciated with hanging glaciers and deep crevasses.”

Crews were unable to reach the crash site in the days following its discovery due to harsh weather conditions.

“Rescue efforts have shifted to recovery because of the elapsed time since the crash and continued poor weather conditions,” the email from the park read. “Recovery plans for this extremely remote location will be made in coordination with the NTSB as weather and winter snow conditions allow for a reconnaissance flight assessing on-the-ground landing options for helicopter crews.”

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