Former Sen. Ted Stevens Dies in Alaska Plane Crash

Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, 86, died in a plane crash in southwest Alaska, a spokesman for the Stevens' family confirmed to ABC News today.

Five of the nine people who were on board died in the plane crash that occured Monday night near Dillingham, Alaska, and two were seriously injured. Rescue crews reached the wreckage Tuesday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said today.

VIDEO: Ted Stevens Dies in Alaskan Plane Crash

Former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe was also a passenger on the plane. O'Keefe is the current chief executive of the U.S.-based division of defense contractor, EADS North America, and was in charge of NASA from 2001 to 2005.

A source at NASA told ABC News that O'Keefe and his son Kevin both survived the crash but were severely injured.

The other four who died in the crash were Theron "Terry" Smith, 62 of Eagle River, Alaska, the pilot; William "Bill" Phillips Sr.; Dana Tindall, 48 of Anchorage, Alaska; and her 16-year-old daughter, Corey Tindall, also of Anchorage, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said.

VIDEO: Former Alaska Senator ted Stevens was involved in a fatal plane crash.
Ted Stevens Involved in Fatal Plane Crash

Phillips was a Washington lobbyist and Stevens' former chief of staff. Dana Tindall was a senior vice president for the Alaska telecommunications company GCI.

The two other survivors were William "Willy" Phillips Jr., 13, and lobbyist and former Stevens aide Jim Morhard of Alexandria, Virginia, according to the Alaska DPS.

Statements poured in commemorating the late senator who was often at odds with his own party members.

"A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform," President Obama said in a statement. "Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Senator Stevens in this terrible accident."

Former President George H.W. Bush remembered Stevens as a "respected friend" who "loved the Senate."

"Ted Stevens loved the Senate; he loved Alaska; and he loved his family -- and he will be dearly missed," Bush said in a statement.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also offered her condolences, writing on facebook, "In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska."

Alaska National Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes said earlier today that the Guard was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham at about 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane.

State and federal officials say severe weather hampered the rescue operation. The National Weather Service reported rain and fog at Dillingham, with low clouds and limited visibility early Tuesday.

Conditions ranged from visibility of about 10 miles reported at Dillingham shortly before 7 p.m. Monday to 3 miles, with rain and fog, reported about an hour later, according to the agency.

Dillingham is located in northern Bristol Bay, about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The aircraft was a 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter registered to Anchorage-based communications company GCI, the Federal Aviation Administration told the Anchorage Daily News. The plane dated back to 1957, but the NTSB said it had been retrofitted with a turboprop engine.

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