It’s unlikely that four people on a helicopter chartered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources survived after it crashed into a remote lake, a federal transportation official said Sunday.
The fate of the four, including three state geographical survey employees, was “presumed fatal,” National Transportation Board spokesperson Keith Holloway said by email.
The crash happened about 7 p.m. Thursday, according to the NTSB, which was investigating why it happened.
Efforts to recover wreckage and remains in a large, remote lake 51 miles south-southwest of Utqiaġvik were planned, Holloway said. The city claims to be the northernmost community in the United States.
A spokesperson for Alaska State Troopers said volunteers from the Alaska Dive Search, Rescue, and Recovery Team were activated and were en route to help local crews, the North Slope Borough Search and Rescue Team, with recovery.
In a statement Friday, the state Department of Natural Resources said its three employees were conducting fieldwork from the air when the helicopter went down.
“DNR is praying for our employees and the pilot, their families, and the DNR team,” the Department of Natural Resources said.
NBC affiliate KTUU of Anchorage described the helicopter as a Bell 206L-4 operated by Maritime Helicopters in Homer.
Holloway of the NTSB said investigators would examine recovered wreckage, request air traffic communications, look at radar data, read weather reports and speak to potential witnesses.
The helicopter’s maintenance records, and the pilots medical records and flight history, will also be requested, he said.
A National Weather Service weather station at Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiaġvik reported fog from shortly before 4 p.m. until roughly 11 p.m. on Thursday.