Midair collision kills 7, including state legislator, in Alaska

A midair collision between two planes in Alaska killed seven people, including state Rep. Gary Knopp. 

Knopp was the sole occupant of one of the planes. The other plane was flown by an area pilot and carried a guide from Kansas and four people from South Carolina.

“This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price said. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”

A single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a twin-engine Piper PA-12 collided about 2 miles northeast of the Soldotna Airport. It was unclear which plane hit the other.

Officials were investigating the cause. Weather conditions were good, with 10-mile visibility, The New York Times reported.

Knopp was first elected to the state House in 2016. Previously, he served many years on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. He worked as a general contractor and was an avid pilot and outdoorsman.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered the U.S. and state flags be flown at half-staff for three days to honor Knopp.

“Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot and a dedicated public servant,” Dunleavy said. “His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served.”

“I'm devastated and shocked to learn of the crash that claimed Gary Knopp's life. Gary was a one-of-a-kind leader and a...

Posted by Alaska House Majority on Friday, July 31, 2020

Officials said six of the seven people were pronounced dead at the scene. The seventh person died while being taken to a hospital.

Besides Knopp, the others killed in the crash were Gregory Bell, 67, the pilot of the other plane; David Rogers, 40, of Kansas; Caleb Hulsey, 26; Heather Hulsey, 25; Mackay Hulsey, 24; and Kirsten Wright, all from South Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.