Alaskan Teen Survives Fatal Helicopter Crash

A 14-year-old boy survived a frigid night in the wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed four other people and was recuperating at a hospital Wednesday, state troopers said.

The Aerostar 350 was carrying state Department of Administration technicians when it went down in heavy snow Tuesday west of Sheep Mountain, about 120 miles northeast of Anchorage.

Bad weather prevented a search by air Tuesday, but a rescuer in a state trooper helicopter spotted the wreckage shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Air National Guard jumpers helped stabilize the survivor, Quinn Ellington of Palmer, and he was taken to Mat-Su Regional Hospital by 9 a.m. He was being treated at a hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Ellington was the stepson of one of the victims, Michael D. Seward, 37, of Palmer. Troopers identified the other victims as the pilot, Benoit Pin, 39, of Anchorage; and passengers Thomas E. Middleton, 46, of Anchorage, Joseph C. O'Donnell, 48, of Girdwood.

The teen's family did not want to discuss the boy's condition, according to state administration officials. Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said, "He wasn't reported to have any life-threatening injuries."

The adult passengers were Department of Administration technicians based in Anchorage. They were working on upgrades to several sites along Alaska's emergency telecommunications system, officials said.

Department Commissioner Annette Kreitzer said she met with Anchorage colleagues of the victims Wednesday morning. Her department also will provide grief counseling for them.

"They're going through all of those stages of grief," Kreitzer said. "Like me, first they were in shock, then sort of disbelief, then just coming to terms with this and getting through the day. It's a terrible tragedy."

Officials were investigating why a 14-year-old boy was on a state mission.

Officials with Era Helicopters, which owned the aircraft, limited comments to a statement from president Neill Osborne that said the company was working with authorities to determine the cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Authorities were at the crash site Wednesday afternoon, working to recover the bodies, Peters said.