Two SC couples among the dead in Alaska mid-air collision

A mid-air collision claimed seven lives in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 31, 2020, including four members of a South Carolina family.   

The two aircraft that collided were a deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver carrying six people, and a twin-engine Piper Aztec occupied only by a pilot. The South Carolina family, consisting of two young couples, was on vacation and sightseeing aboard the deHavilland. When the crash occurred above the Kenai Peninsula around 8:30 a.m., they were roughly two miles northeast of the Soldotna Airport. Both their guide and pilot were also killed. 

The NTSB is investigating the collision. A cause has not yet been determined. 

The crash came roughly six years after nine South Carolina residents lost their lives in another aviation tragedy in Soldotna. Similarly, the victims in that crash were also tourists on a sightseeing trip when the deHavilland DHC-3 they were on board crashed immediately after takeoff.  Jim Brauchle, an aviation lawyer with Motley Rice, represents the families involved in the 2013 crash. Read more about that crash.

“Being involved in the prior crash, I have traveled to Soldotna several times and know the area well. I, along with our team have been very involved with this prior crash and have combed the area to find witnesses, met the emergency service workers, walked the field and runways, studied court records and met the local airport manager,” Jim said. “Despite the vastness of Alaska, during the summer months, the airspace around Soldotna can be very congested. Most of these planes are flying under visual flight rules and must adhere to the ‘see and avoid’ principle. Unfortunately, these accidents occur more frequently than they should.”

Motley Rice aviation attorneys Mary Schiavo, a CNN transportation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Jim Brauchle, a former U.S. Air Force navigator with years of flying experience, have extensive experience representing victims’ families in plane disasters, including those involving mid-air collisions, mechanical failures and other issues. For more information, contact aviation attorney Mary Schiavo at 843.216.9138 or [email protected] or attorney Jim Brauchle at 843.216.9243 or [email protected].