Former United States Senator Ted Stevens, 86, was killed in a plane crash near southern Alaska on Monday night, according to NBC affiliate KTUU.
Five people were reported to have lost their lives in the crash that occured approximately 320 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Rescue crews from the Alaska Air National Guard and the United States Coast Guard were delayed by rain and fog in their attempt at any rescue efforts, and arrived on the scene more than 10 hours after the crash.
The Stevens family issued a statement on Tuesday morning that expressed concern but revealed no more information about senator’s fate:
“The Ted Stevens family offers their prayers for all those on board and for their families. We thank the brave men and women who are working to reach the site. We continue to work with the Alaska National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers. We thank everyone for their support and prayers.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said that the aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3T, a single-engine, high-wing airplane.
Mr. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history before he lost his campaign for a seventh term in 2008 when he was found to be guilty of corruption charges; the case was later thrown out because of prosecutors were found to have withheld evidence from defense attorneys.
Among the other notable passengers was Sean O’Keefe, 54, a former NASA administrator. O’Keefe, who became chief executive of North American operations for aerospace firm EADS in Nov. 2009, guided NASA from 2001 to 2005, and previously served as chancellor for the Louisiana State University.
This incident marks Mr. Stevens’ second plane crash, as he was involved in a Learjet crash on Dec. 4, 1978, that killed five of seven people on board, including his first wife.