Helicopter Crash On Knik Glacier Takes 5 Lives. One Survivor Is Seriously Injured

Two Alaskans, Two Czechs & One Colorado Resident Killed In Knik Glacier Helicopter Crash  March 27th, 2021: A Soloy flightseeing helicop...

Two Alaskans, Two Czechs & One Colorado Resident Killed In Knik Glacier Helicopter Crash 

March 27th, 2021: A Soloy flightseeing helicopter carrying two Tordrillo Mountain Lodge guides and three travelers crashed Saturday in the Knik Glacier area, Troopers said. The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center went to the site at around 10 pm after the overdue helicopter was reported. 

Troopers found the helicopter, and five people who had died. They found a sixth person who survived and who was "in serious but stable condition." Troopers transported that person to the hospital. Several days later they announced the survivor was a 48 year old Czech resident named David Horvath. 

Troopers, along with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and Alaska Army National Guard made recoveries at the site on Sunday – the next day. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group is made up of volunteers. 

Alaska Mountain Rescue Group Volunteers at the Site (Photo, Mountain Rescue) 

By the end of Sunday, March 28th, Troopers had notified the next of kin of those who died, and reported the names of the deceased. The injured person remained in serious but stable condition. That person's name was not released. The dead are: 

  • 52-year-old Colorado resident Gregory Harms
  • 56-year-old Czech Republic resident Petr Kellner
  • 50-year-old Czech Republic resident Benjamin Larochaix
  • 38-year-old Girdwood, Alaska resident Sean McManamy
  • 33-year-old Anchorage, Alaska resident  Zachary Russell (pilot) 

Deja Vu, All Over Again:
2010 Rescue On Knik Glacier 
One of the most dramatic Alaskan incidents on Knik Glacier in the past involved two rescue helicopters, a crashed flightseeing plane, a rescue ski crew, and miscellaneous other military planes. 

Crashed helicopter (Photo, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group) 

In August, 2010, five people  were stranded on Knik Glacier for several days after their flightseeing plane crashed on the ice due to “bad weather” and a mid-summer downdraft. Because the plane’s passengers were tourists, they weren’t prepared for the August cold. So four Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen (PJ’s) spent 21 hours skiing four miles up the glacial ice with supplies – including tents, food, water and warm clothes.
They would have sent in a helicopter, but the weather (in spite of it being summer) was too severe for helicopter rescuers. Then a Black Hawk helicopter stepped up and tried to land. The Black Hawk suffered a slow-motion crash on the glacier. 

The Black Hawk came down on the ice, rolled down the glacier, and was badly damaged. 

Alaska Army National Guard helicopter at 2021 crash site (Photo, Mountain Rescue) 

Now 12 people needed to be rescued from the Knik Glacier: the five original plane crash victims, the four Air National Guard pararescue crewmen who had skied to the site with supplies – and three helicopter crewmen. 

Everyone was finally rescued by a second military helicopter, backed up by two other military aircraft. 

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge 
According to its website, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is a "remote, multi-sport, luxury lodge" in the "heart of the Tordrillo Range" and "just a 40-minute flight from Anchorage." 

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is co-owned by former Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe, one of Alaska's best known Olympic athletes, who won the Men's Downhill ski race at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. 


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