Alaska lawmaker's husband was flying meat from hunting camp when crash occurred, authorities say

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The plane flown by the husband of Alaska U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola was carrying a load of moose meat from a remote hunting camp when it crashed, killing him earlier this week, authorities said.

Eugene Peltola Jr., 57, was the only person aboard the small plane when it crashed late Tuesday. Two hunters who were at the camp in western Alaska at the time provided medical care, authorities have said.

The chairperson of the National Transportation Safety Board had previously said the plane appeared to have crashed under unknown circumstances upon takeoff after Peltola dropped off a hunter and equipment about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of St. Mary’s. But Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel on Thursday said the plane crashed shortly after takeoff while carrying a second load of moose meat from the two hunters who later gave him medical aid.

The NTSB noted the new information Friday and said that, according to witness interviews, Peltola had returned to the area to transport a load of meat from hunters he had flown to the location on an earlier flight. A federal investigative team arrived at the crash site Friday, according to an NTSB statement.

A preliminary report is expected in the next few weeks, while a final report with probable cause findings is expected in one to two years, the agency said.

Peltola received his commercial pilot’s license in 2004, requiring him to use corrective lenses at all distances, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database.

Rep. Peltola last year became the first Alaska Native in Congress and the first woman elected to Alaska’s only U.S. House seat, which had been held for 49 years by Republican Don Young. Young died in March 2022.

Eugene Peltola Jr. was a former Alaska regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and worked for decades for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.