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Air Excursions Piper Cherokee Crash West of Juneau, Alaska

Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 2, the Coast Guard received a report that an Air Excursions, LLC, Piper Cherokee was due into Gustavus, AK, from Juneau at 8:55 a.m., but had not been seen nor heard from since the pilot's last contact at 8:47 a.m. near Point Howard. Point Howard is in the Tongass National Forest about 23 miles west of Juneau, and Air Excursions is a flight-seeing tour and local transportation company which serves southeast Alaska.

The Coast Guard and civilian Coastal Helicopters both began a search for the teal and white Piper. That afternoon, at around 3:00 p.m., the Coastal helicopter crew located the downed plane in the Point Howard Area. The Coast Guard then flew in by helicopter a ground crew from Juneau Mountain Rescue, which found the one person on board, pilot Kevin Murray, 56, of Chelan, WA, deceased.

During the search, it was noted that visibility was poor with the cloud level in some areas around 300 feet. Other details surrounding the time of the crash, and the cause, are not yet known or released. An investigation is underway.

According to a Wenatchee, WA, news report, Mr. Murray had been a deputy with the Okanogan County Sheriff starting in 1989, and was a sergeant by the time he left in 2003 to work as a pilot. In such a tight knit community, Mr. Murray's loss is especially felt.

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