U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband has died in an airplane crash, her office said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are devastated to share that Mary’s husband, Eugene Peltola Jr. — ′Buzzy’ to all of us who knew and loved him — passed away earlier this morning following a plane accident in Alaska,” her chief of staff, Anton McParland, said in the statement. He was 57.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash of a Piper PA 18-150 Super Cub that went down at 8:48 p.m. Tuesday under unknown circumstances near St. Mary’s, Alaska. St. Mary’s is located about 440 miles (708.11 kilometers) west of Anchorage.
“The pilot flew a hunter and the hunter’s equipment to a remote location 64 miles away from St. Mary’s. After leaving the hunter, the plane took off to return and appears to have crashed in an area of remote, mountainous terrain,” the NTSB said in a statement.
NTSB investigators were responding to the scene with the Alaska National Guard. The agency leaves identifying victims to local officials, but NTSB chairperson Jennifer Homendy held a news conference Wednesday to speak about a crash in western Alaska that killed the pilot who was the only person aboard, presumed to be Eugene Peltola Jr.
Peltola’s husband once served as Alaska director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Peltola herself is a tribal member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council.
Several prominent Alaskans have died in transportation collisions across Alaska — a state for its inhospitable weather and for its sprawling, unexplored territory.
Former Sen. Ted Stevens died in a plane crash in 2010, after surviving another one in 1978. Don Young, Peltola’s immediate predecessor, won his seat after an incumbent was presumed dead in a plane crash.
Given the frequency of crashes, some Alaskans have tried to raise the salience of transportation as a political issue. Alaska currently has fewer road miles than Connecticut, despite dwarfing every other state in size.
Peltola, an Alaska Democrat, was elected to a full term in the U.S. House in November, months after winning a special election following the death of U.S. Rep. Don Young. The Republican had held Alaska’s sole House seat for 49 years until his death at the age of 88.
The congresswoman was returning to Alaska from Washington, D.C., to be with her family, and the chief of staff asked for their privacy as the family grieves.
“Our team will continue to meet with constituents and carry on the work of the office while Mary and her family grieve,” the chief of staff said. “He was completely devoted to his parents, kids, siblings, extended family, and friends — and he simply adored Mary. We are heartbroken for the family’s loss.”
Colleagues of both parties expressed their condolences.
“I am so terribly sorry,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., tweeted. “Our hearts are with you and your family today.”
“You and your family are in my prayers,” Rep. John James, R-Mich., tweeted.
Take a look —
— The Independent (@Independent) September 13, 2023
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.