Around 10:30amET, the cable news networks began continuing coverage of a small plane crash in Alaska which occurred Monday night. Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe were believed to be onboard the plane which carried nine people. Four survived.
Fox News correspondent Dan Springer is on the ground in Alaska, reporting live from Juneau. Springer spoke with an eyewitness to the crash who told him the plane “hit straight into a mountainside, about 1000 feet up.” Rescue crews are on the scene.
Former Alaska Governor turned Fox News analyst Sarah Palin phoned in to “Happening Now” around 11:45amET and talked with anchor Jon Scott about the terrain in the area of the crash and about Sen. Stevens.
“He is a warrior, an Alaskan hero. A World War II vet who has dedicated his life to his country,” said Palin. “I agree with you, Jon, if someone is going to survive something like this, as he has survived in the past these close calls, it would be our good senator.”
On CNN, NASA correspondent John Zarella reported that O’Keefe’s relationship with Stevens goes back many years. “Many people that I’ve talked with in the last half hour or so have been saying that Stevens was O’Keefe’s mentor,” Zarella reported.
O’Keefe, who is now CEO of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European aerospace firm EADS, was a familiar face on cable TV news in the days and months after the shuttle Columbia tragedy in February, 2003.
Update: The networks now confirm that Stevens died in the plane crash. CNN broke the news citing a “source” at 2:18 p.m. Fox News cited an AP report at 2:34 p.m., then confirmed it independently shortly thereafter. MSNBC confirmed the news at 2:39 p.m.
Update 2: The plane carrying the passengers was owned by GCI, which is Alaska’s largest cable television provider. Approximately 3/4 of Alaska residents get their cable TV-including cable news channels like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC-through GCI.