Unauthorised pilot dies after crashing plane into city building in Alaska

December 30, 2015 9:00 pm


stand near a piece of wreckage after a small plane slammed into a
commercial building in downtown Anchorage, . Photo / AP

The pilot of a small plane that smashed into a office building in
Alaska today was not authorized to fly the aircraft used in volunteer
search-and-rescue missions, authorities said.
Doug Demarest, 42,
of Anchorage, died when the Cessna 172 clipped an office building and
slammed into a commercial building and igniting a fire, according to the
FBI, which is helping investigate the crash.
The plane belongs
to the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force that
is made up of volunteers who help with search and rescue, disaster
relief and homeland security across the country, according to a
statement from the national group. Demarest joined the patrol in 2010.
one on the ground was hurt and there was no indication anyone else was
aboard the plane, FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said. Neither
agency would release additional details about Demarest or how he
acquired the plane.

The early morning crash happened before most businesses opened
for the day in the heart of downtown, an area surrounded by offices,
hotels and restaurants.
The first building hit, houses a law firm
Dorsey & Whitney, where the pilot’s wife Katherine Demarest is
employed as an attorney, said Bryn Vaaler, attorney and chief marketing
officer based at the firm’s Minneapolis headquarters.
Vaaler said
he didn’t have any information about the Demarests’ marital status. He
also didn’t know if anyone was in the firm’s sixth-floor offices at the
time of the crash.
Kent Haina, a 747 captain for UPS, said he was
taking out his garbage when he saw the plane go down at a shallow angle
and disappear behind a building. He then heard a loud thud and saw a
plume of black smoke.
Haina said the wind was howling at the time.
engine) didn’t sound like it was in trouble, but the weather was pretty
windy,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘It’s not good weather to be flying
Clint Johnson, Alaska region chief for the National
Transportation Safety Board, said the crash happened amid blustery winds
but that the agency is not ruling out anything as a cause. The NTSB
looks at pilot error, mechanical problems and weather in its
The plane came in over the shoreline toward
downtown and clipped the corner of the office building, where some state
employees work. Then it crashed into the lower side of an adjacent
multistory commercial building, setting it on fire.
responded quickly and had the blaze under control, fire officials said.
The FBI said neither building has structural damage.
Vince Maiorano was working as a line cook at Snow City Cafe across the street when he heard the plane strike a transformer.
and a co-worker ran up to the plane to see if anyone was inside, but
they didn’t see anybody and were driven back by large flames that
overtook the aircraft.
“We heard a loud whoosh noise when the
transformer went out, and that’s when the power went out on the whole
block,” Maiorano said.
The commercial building appeared to be
unoccupied at the time of the crash, Don Tallman of the Anchorage Fire
Department. Authorities cordoned off an area around the building,
closing several roads.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was among those
checking out the scene Tuesday. Because one of the buildings houses
state workers, Walker said he wanted to “find out what’s going on.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, NTSB and FBI are investigating.

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