Small Plane Carrying High School Swim Team Crashes off Runway in Alaska, Two Critically Injured
Cordova City School District Superintendent John P. Conwell shared that the students were doing well after the incident and "eating pizza"
A plane carrying a high school swim team, among other passengers, went off an airport runway Thursday while trying to land in a small Alaska community.
According to CNN, PenAir Flight 3296 — which operates a SAAB 2000 airplane for Alaska Airlines — was scheduled to fly from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor and was carrying 39 passengers and three crew members.
Upon landing at 5:40 p.m. (10:40 p.m. ET), the flight went off the end of the runway at Unalaska-Dutch Harbor Airport — which is in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska — and left the nose of the plane dangling over a body of water.
Peninsula Airways, or PenAir, told PEOPLE in a statement that the incident left two people critically injured, and 10 others receiving medical care.
PenAir — which is operated by Ravn Alaska — additionally tweeted statement, “An accident involving PenAir flt 3296, marketed by Alaska Airlines, from ANC to Unalaska, occurred, October 17th. There were 39 passengers and three crew members on board. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our passengers, crew, and family members.”
The aircraft crashed off the runway due to unknown circumstances, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration told the Associated Press. The weather that day, CNN reported, only included light rain and winds of 24 mph.
Cordova City School District — home of the team — Superintendent Alex Russin wrote in a statement on the school district website that he was told the school’s “team of swimmers and their chaperones were on the inbound flight that experienced difficulty in stopping on the airport runway.”
“At present, all students and chaperones are accounted for and are OK, albeit a bit shaken up. REPEAT, EVERYONE IS SAFE AND SECURE,” he continued.
He added that he spoke with Unalaska City School District Superintendent John P. Conwell, who shared that the students were doing well after the incident, and “were eating pizza.”
While the crash continues to be investigated, Russin added that the school district will have the school’s counselor and two local clinicians “should additional support be needed for our team.”
“We’ve got a major investigation going here and there’s all sorts of rumors going around,” Clint Johnson, head of the Alaska region of the National Transportation Safety Board, told Anchorage television station KTUU . “We’re trying to get an investigator down, and the rest of the team will be coming from Washington, D.C.”