U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband was killed when his small plane crashed in rural Alaska earlier this month. The jet was weighed down with over 500 pounds of meat and antlers from a distant hunting site where Peltola bagged a moose. His plane went down shortly after takeoff.
The sole person on board was 57-year-old Eugene “Buzzy” Peltola Jr.
The crash happened on September 12, about 65 miles northeast of the small western Alaska community of St. Mary’s. According to the preliminary NTSB report, he was discovered alive but died on the scene. The NTSB has stated that a final study with findings of probable cause could take up to two years.
The investigation states that two days before the incident, Peltola led a group of five hunters from Holy Cross, together with their guide and equipment, to a place some 80 miles northwest of the settlement, where they slept adjacent to a landing strip—the outing aimed to shoot a moose and transport it back to the Holy Cross. The crew hunted down a moose on September 11 and arranged for Peltola to deliver the meat the following day.
On the day of the accident, Peltola had already picked up one load of meat and was returning to the area to pick up another. One of the hunters believed that this shipment had an extra 50-70 pounds. According to the report, Peltola fastened antlers to the right wing strut.
Peltola discussed the weather and wind with one of the hunters, who informed him that the gusts were stronger near the departure end of the runway.
According to the investigation, no smoke or vapor came from the plane, and no signs of a catastrophic engine failure. The investigation states that the aircraft was carrying around 520 pounds of cargo, most of which were moose meat and a set of moose antlers, which were weighed at the accident site.
Peltola worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for many years and previously served as the regional director for Alaska at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Mary Peltola, a Democrat, was elected to the lone U.S. House seat in Alaska last year, replacing Republican Don Young, who had held the position for 49 years. Death came for him in March of 2022.