Family: Former U.S. Senator was killed in plane crash

Sean O'Keefe
Sean O'Keefe
Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens

WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board says it appears that five people were killed and four survived the Alaska crash of a small plane that was carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

The plane crashed Monday night near a remote fishing village in Alaska, killing five.

Family members confirm Senator Stevens, the longest serving Republican ever in the U.S. Senate, is among those who died on board the plane.

A former NASA spokesman says ex-NASA chief Sean O'Keefe survived the plane crash. Glenn Mahone (Muh-HOHN') says O'Keefe's teenage son, Kevin, was also among the four survivors. The former spokesman for the space agency says he has talked to O'Keefe's family. They told him that O'Keefe and his son had some broken bones and other injuries.

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Ted Lopatkiewicz, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told The Associated Press in Washington that reports from Alaska authorities were that nine people were aboard the aircraft and that "it appears that there are five fatalities." He said the NTSB which is sending at team to the crash site in southwest Alaska.

O'Keefe has been heavily involved in the negotiations to try to bring a large airplane manufacturing plant to south Alabama. The plant would produce refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force if it wins a government bid over rival Boeing Corp.

O'Keefe sat down with WSFA 12 News Anchor Bob Howell just a month ago to discuss the future of the EADS deal. WSFA 12 News spoke with Alabama Development Office Director Neal Wade, while waiting to hear of O'Keefe's condition, said negotiations, bidding and the possibility of awarding the refueling contract to Alabama would probably not be affected regardless. The ADO is dealing with the current Chairman of EADS' North Atlantic division, Ralph Crosley, who is the designated person for the tanker deal.

Governor Bob Riley has been notified of the crash. His office has not released a statement, however.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) released this statement: "Ted Stevens was a good friend and a distinguished colleague.  His commitment to the people of Alaska was remarkable, making him a legendary advocate for the State.  No one has done more for Alaska than Ted.  I extend my deepest sympathy to Catherine, his children, and the entire Stevens family for their loss."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)