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Husband of Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola dies in plane crash

Eugene Peltola Jr., husband of Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), died Tuesday after his plane crashed in western Alaska, Peltola’s office announced Wednesday.

“We are devastated to announce that Mary’s husband, Eugene Peltola Jr. – ‘Buzzy’ to all of us who knew and loved him – passed away earlier this morning following an accident. “plane in Alaska,” said the congresswoman’s communications director, Sam Erickson. in a report. “He was one of those people who was obnoxiously good at everything. He had a delightful sense of humor that brightened even the darkest moments.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a single-engine Piper PA-18 crashed shortly after takeoff near the village of St. Mary’s in western Alaska around 8:45 p.m. local time. According to the FAA, only the pilot was on board. According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, the accident occurred approximately 64 miles northeast of St. Mary’s, and two hunters at the scene provided medical treatment to Peltola. The ADPS incident report states Peltola died before a rescue team arrived on scene.

Agents from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, the agency said, under the direction of the NTSB.

The congresswoman, who was in Washington on Tuesday, returned to Alaska on Wednesday, her office said.

The Peltolas shared seven children and lived in Bethel, Alaska. Eugene Peltola, 57, was a tribal member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council and most recently served as director of the Alaska Region Bureau of Indian Affairs. He retired from this position in 2022. Before that, he worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than three decades.

Mary Peltola made history as the state’s first woman in the House, first Alaska native – her name is Yup’ik – and first Democrat to hold the seat in half a century when she beat a leading field to win election to Alaska’s only House. headquarters in 2022.

On Wednesday, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said he was deeply saddened to learn of his husband’s death.

“The entire House Democratic caucus mourns the loss of Buzzy, and we lift up Mary and the Peltola family in prayer,” Jeffries said. “We will be there for her in any way she needs during this unimaginable tragic time.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), in a tweet, said she was “shocked” to learn of the death of her colleague’s husband, and said it was “easy to understand why so many Alaskans called a friend and how he was so loved by his family.

“Today we mourn the tragic loss of Gene and offer Mary and his family our sincere prayers for strength and consolation during this time of indescribable loss and grief, and know that Alaskans across our great state do the same ” said Senator Dan. Sullivan (R-Alaska) said on social media job.

The Blue Dog Democrats’ moderate caucus chairs, Reps. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Washington) and Jared Golden (Maine) remembered Eugene Peltola in a joint statement as “an incredible man, devoted to Mary, his children and everyone he loved.”

Due to Alaska’s geography, small planes and helicopters are often used to travel across the state. Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a scion of Alaska politics, died in a plane crash in 2010 after leaving office.

According to a 2021 ProPublica-KUCB investigation, since 2016, 42% of U.S. deaths from accidents involving small commercial aircraft have occurred in Alaska — a number of experts told the publication that it was the result of Alaska’s rugged terrain, limited infrastructure, and weather conditions.

Azi Paybarah contributed to this report.


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