National

Aug 10, 2010 2:28 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Sen. Ted Stevens confirmed dead in plane crash

A spokesman for the family of Ted Stevens says the former senator has died in a plane crash in Alaska.

Mitch Rose tells The Associated Press that the family had been notified that the 86-year-old Stevens was among those killed.

Five of the nine people aboard the plane died.

Also aboard, former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe.  His fate is not yet known.

Stevens was on a fishing trip with former members of his staff and their families near Dillingham, in northern Bristol Bay about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage, family friends said. Stevens' wife, Catherine, was not on the plane.

The aircraft - a 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter registered to GCI, an Anchorage-based communications company - was flying from Nerka Lake to the HRM Sports Camp along the Nushagak River, said Mike Fergus, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane was flying under visual flight rules and was not required to file a flight plan.

In 1978, Stevens was severely injured in a plane crash that killed his first wife, Ann, and four other passengers. Reports from that time indicated that Stevens was seriously injured with head, neck and arm injuries.

Stevens lost his re-election bid in 2008 after he was convicted on corruption charges, but the case was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Through his long career, he was chairman of the Commerce and Appropriations committees and became known for the proposed "Bridge to Nowhere," which became a symbol of out-of-control "pork barrel" spending.

The abandoned project would have linked the town of Ketchikan to its island airport at a cost of $398 million.

Stevens, a former World War II pilot, has said he is well aware of the dangers of flying. "Every time you go up, there's a chance you won't come down," he told the AP in 2002.

O'Keefe, 54, the chief executive of aerospace firm EADS North America and a former secretary of the Navy, was flying on the plane with a son, according to a spokesman for EADS.

O'Keefe was administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 2001 to 2005. Previously, he was briefly deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

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