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Lake Clark search and recovery suspended

courtesy of the Blom family

Ice fog and cold weather have grounded aircraft and made boating hazardous. NPS suspended official search for Piper Cherokee that went down Wednesday with four onboard.

KDLG: Efforts have stalled in Lake Clark as poor weather is preventing aircraft from continuing the search for the Piper Cherokee that went down with four onboard last Wednesday. On Monday afternoon, Lake Clark National Park officials suspended the official search.

"We are dealing with persistent ice fog off of Lake Clark, and that is hampering the air search," Megan Richotte, a spokesperson with LCNP said Monday morning. "Alaska State Troopers arrived on Saturday, and they were able to fly with their helicopter less than an hour over the lake."

Credit National Park Service - LCNP
Lake Clark has been socked in by ice fog, which is common this time of the year. That is making air searches difficult, and boat operations have been suspended by NPS.

Troopers did not see any new debris in the presumed vicinity of the crash. Last Thursday a boater found items belonging to occupants on the plane, and on Friday the co-pilot seat and all three wheels were found on the lake approximately 11 miles northeast of Port Alsworth.

The Piper Cherokee left Port Alsworth at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday but never arrived in Anchorage. Authorities believe it went down in Lake Clark, killing the four onboard.

Searchers have been grounded since the trooper flight Saturday, according to Richotte.

"No one, community members or park aircraft, have been able to fly yesterday or today.”

She said the bay around Port Alsworth is frozen, so searching by boat had been limited to 18-foot Lunds. On Saturday the Park Service suspended boat operations due to the cold temperatures and ice fog.

Presumed killed in the crash are pilot 25-year-old Kyle Longerbeam, passenger 45-year-old Scott Blom, and 13-year-old Zach and 14-year-old Kaitlyn Blom.

Fundraising efforts for travel and funeral expenses for the two families involved collected over $30,000 in donations this weekend. A funeral service for the Blom family is scheduled Sunday at Anchorage Grace Church, and a service for both the Longerbeam and the Blom families will be held in Port Alsworth Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.

Kyle Longerbeam, 25, was piloting a Piper PA-28 Cherokee that crashed Wednesday after leaving Port Alsworth.