The single-engine DeHavilland Beaver float plane was on a ship-sponsored flight-seeing excursion to Misty Fjords from Ketchikan, according to media reports and the cruise line. It was spotted in the rugged terrain by rescue helicopters, which were dispatched after the pilot issued a distress signal -- and didn't return.
Princess Cruises immediately suspended all tours with the company, and is working with local authorities to investigate the accident. Sun Princess departed from Ketchikan two hours late yesterday to continue its seven-day roundtrip cruise from Seattle, CNN reports.
Princess has notified the families of the victims. According to CNN, they are William F. Eddy and Jeanne J. Eddy of Jacksonville, Florida, and Marianne M. McManus and Paul J. McManus of Cherry Valley, Massachusetts. The pilot, Joseph H. Campbell of Ketchikan, also died in the crash; there were no survivors.
"Our shoreside care team is doing everything possible to help their families through this difficult tragedy, and we share in their grief," spokeswoman Julie Benson said via an official statement. Benson tells us that the Captain will make an announcement to passengers this morning informing them of the tragic news, and will ask them to join in a moment of silence.
Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor