Park Service Releases Names Of Texas Couple Believed To Have Crashed In Wrangell-St. Elias

Extreme Summer Weather Conditions Are Too Poor To Reach The Glaciated Crash Site, Says National Park  Plane Crash Rescue Shifts to a Recover...

Extreme Summer Weather Conditions Are Too Poor To Reach The Glaciated Crash Site, Says National Park 

Plane Crash Rescue Shifts to a Recovery Effort at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park 


COPPER CENTER, AK – Rescue efforts for a passenger and pilot in a downed plane in the southern part of Wrangell St. Elias National Park have shifted to a recovery effort today. Due to difficult terrain, extremely remote location, and developing winter conditions, it is expected that recovery efforts may take an extended period of time.   


On Aug. 27, 2023, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center (AKRCC) reported that an aircraft that departed the Glennallen area at 8:50 am enroute to Ketchikan was overdue. The aircraft was determined to be a Beechcraft Bonanza B-36 believed to be carrying 59-year-old Clayton McMartin and 58-year-old Melissa McMartin from Roanoke, Texas. The last known communication with the aircraft was approximately 18 miles inland of Cape Yakataga.  


On Aug. 28, 2023, an Alaska Air National Guard HC-130J Combat King II, flown by the 211th Rescue Squadron, launched to search the area, but poor weather prevented that and other aviation assets from conducting a search. Later that evening, a US Coast Guard HC-130 out of Kodiak located airplane wreckage north of the summit of Mt. Leeper. They described the area as heavily glaciated with hanging glaciers and deep crevasses.  Weather conditions on Aug. 29, 30, 31, and Sept. 1 made it impossible to access the crash site.  


Rescue efforts have shifted to recovery because of the elapsed time since the crash and continued poor weather conditions.  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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