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Denali National Park Plane Crash Leaves 4 Dead, 1 Missing

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Location of crashed plane on Thunder Mountain. NPS

A flightseeing plane carrying Polish passengers crashed near the summit of the Thunder Mountain ridgeline in Denali National Park on Saturday.

On Monday, a National Park Service (NPS) ranger was lowered down to the crash site from a line from a helicopter. The ranger dug through snow and found the bodies of four of the five passengers, NPS said in a press release.


The fifth person is missing and presumed dead. "There were no footprints or disturbances leading away from the site and there were no other signs to indicate any of the passengers made it out of the plane," the park service said.

The plane went down at approximately 6 p.m. on Aug. 4 in "extremely technical terrain on a hanging glacier that spans a crevice," NPS said. They crashed near the top of Thunder Mountain, which stands at roughly 10,900 feet.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials said Monday that it may be the deadliest civilian crash to ever occur in the park.

"We believe it to be the largest fatality at Denali [National] Park, according to our NTSB records," NTSB investigator Noreen Price told KTVA.

The names of the passengers are being withheld pending notification of family members. Only Craig Layson of Saline, Michigan, the pilot of the K2 Aviation flight, has been identified.

Layson sent out a distress call and reported injuries immediately after the plane went down but contact with him was lost, according to the Associated Press. Poor weather also hampered rescue efforts to reach the aircraft.

Due to foul weather and the dangerous location, recovery efforts will not occur until later this week, NTSB spokesman Clint Johnson said to the Associated Press.

"It's a very tricky terrain up there," Katherine Belcher with the NPS told KTVA. "It's basically a sheer vertical cliff: lots of ice, lots of snow, lots of rock."

A temporary flight restriction in the vicinity of the crash site was lifted on Tuesday.

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