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North Pole Plane Crash Sends 4 to Hospital

Updated: The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of a single-engine airplane just after takeoff Thursday afternoon at a private airstrip in North Pole.

Alaska State Troopers say the pilot and three passengers, who are all North Pole residents, were transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Troopers later identified the pilot – 63-year-old Evan Wheeler; and the 59-year-old passenger, Sherlyin Wheeler. Both were transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, along with two children, ages 10 and 7.

A Fairbanks Memorial Hospital spokesperson said this morning that all four had been discharged.

NTSB spokesman Clint Johnson said Friday the agency was just beginning to investigate the crash.

“We do understand that a total of four people were transported to the hospital. Unknown extent of the injuries,” he said.

The NTSB didn’t return calls Tuesday on requests for updated information

On Friday, Johnson said, “Our investigator in charge, who’s Eric Swenson, has been in contact with Troopers who were on the scene,”.

Johnson says preliminary information indicates it was a single-engine Cessna that went down just after 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve heard (about) two models – a Cessna 170 or 172. But we think it’s most likely a 172,” he said.

An eyewitness who saw the crash and called 911 told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that The plane hit a tree and crashed soon after takeoff. The eyewitness said the plane then burst into flames.

The Trooper report said state Forestry firefighters responded to the crash. A Forestry helicopter dropped water on the burning aircraft and firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.