Tragic mid air crash kills 7 including Alaskan Gary Knopp, GOP lawmaker

Four people from Kansas South Carolina were among 7 killed yesterday in a horrific mid air crash that also claimed the life of Gary Knopp, the 67 year old state Rep. from Kenai.

Alaska state troopers responded to the crash and reported that Gary Knopp was the pilot of one of the planes. The other plane had the pilot, a guide and four people from South Carolina.

The crash occured near the Soldotna airport on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price stated “This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident”

The crash occured just before 8.30am yesterday, and is being investigated by The National Transportation Safety Board.

A local Golf Course employee, Rita Geller said “I ran to a clearing and basically saw it explode, the engine and things were flying off of it. I didn’t see the second plane, but I saw a lot of debris flying around. It was horrific. It was just like 9/11.”

Pilot Gregory Bell of Soldotna, guide David Rogers of Kansas, Caleb Hulsey, Heather Hulsey, Mackay Hulsey and Kirstin Wright all of South Carolina were reported as the casualties by State Troopers.

 

Gregory Bell runs a charter business, High Adventure Air Charter in Soldotna which caters for fishing, hunting and bear viewing excursions.
Gregory Bell runs a charter business, High Adventure Air Charter in Soldotna which caters for fishing, hunting and bear viewing excursions.

State Senator Peter Micciche who lives near the crash site said “We live in a small, tight community here in the Central Peninsula. When I heard the horrific sounds of a plane crash this morning, which occurred very close to my home, I knew there was a high probability it involved someone we knew well. I have known Gary Knopp and Greg Bell for most of my life. Gary has served the Kenai Peninsula community for decades. I have flown with Greg and never felt to be in better, more safety-focused hands while in the air. We are reeling from the loss to our community”

Governor Mike Dunleavy’s statement read “The first lady and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Rep. Knopp’s family as they mourn his untimely passing. Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot, and a dedicated public servant. His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served.”

FAA Investigators attended the crash site which is approximately 150 miles southwest of Anchorage.


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