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Thu, Sep 14, 2023

Husband of Alaska Congresswoman Killed in Super Cub Accident

Eugene Peltola Jr. Lost After Flying Hunter to Remote Locale

Eugene Peltola Jr. (57), former holder of senior positions with the U.S. federal government and husband of U.S. Congresswoman Mary Peltola (Democrat, Alaska), lost his life when the Super Cub he was piloting went down in a remote mountainous region of northwestern Alaska on 12 September 2023.

Anton McParland, chief of staff to Representative Mary Peltola, announced the death on Wednesday 13 September, setting forth in statement: “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.”

McParland’s statement continued: “He was one of those people that was obnoxiously good at everything. He had a delightful sense of humor that lightened the darkest moments. He was definitely the cook in the family. And family was most important to him. 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.”

McParland further stated Representative Peltola planned to return to Alaska for purpose of being with her family during an exceedingly difficult time. McParland requested the Peltola family’s privacy be respected.

The mishap reportedly occurred some 56-nautical-miles northeast of St. Mary’s in Alaska’s Kusilvak Census Area, to which Peltola had transported a hunter and his equipment. According to two on-scene hunters who provided post-accident medical care to Peltola, the accident-aircraft came to ground shortly after taking off under the decedent’s control.

The Super Cub’s 406 Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) activated and was received by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at 20:48 Alaska Daylight Time (Zulu -8). Alaska State Troopers were notified of the accident at 20:50 ADT.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the aforementioned hunters, Mr. Peltola died before an Alaska Air National Guard rescue team arrived on-site in the early-morning hours of 13 September. The team transported Peltola’s body and the two uninjured hunters to Anchorage, Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Peltola, who was of Yup’ik and Tlingit descent, retired in 2022 after having served four years in the capacity of regional director of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was a citizen of Orutsararmiut Native Council—the Tribal organization for Bethel, Alaska.

In a statement issued at the time of his appointment to the BIA post, Peltola remarked: “This [position] will provide me the opportunity to contribute to the continued betterment of our people and have a voice in the manner which subsistence opportunities are presented for Alaska Natives and other rural residents of the state.”

Prior to joining the BIA, Mr. Peltola passed 34-years in the employ of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, during which he served as the federal subsistence management program lead, zone supervisor for refuge law enforcement, and refuge manager for the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

From 2010 through 2012, Peltola served, also, as Bethel’s vice-mayor and a city council member. He was a board member of three Alaska Native village corporations, including the Bethel Native Corporation.

Speaking to the subject of Mr. Peltola’s death, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican, Alaska) stated: “Anyone who met Buzzy felt his warmth, generosity, and charm. It was easy to see why so many Alaskans called him a friend, and how he was so loved by his family.”

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (Republican, Alaska) confided he and his wife, Julie, were shocked and saddened “beyond belief.”

Senator Sullivan stated: “Today, we mourn the tragic loss of Gene, and offer Mary and her family our heartfelt prayers for strength and consolation in this time of unspeakable loss and grief, and know that Alaskans across our great state are doing the same.”

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy asserted: “Rose and I are shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of Gene Peltola. We will be praying for Mary, their children, and all of the Peltola family. Gene’s dedication to Alaska ran deep, and he will be dearly missed.”

The accident in which Mr. Peltola lost his life will presently be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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