NTSB Identification: ANC16LA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 29, 2015 in Anchorage, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N914CP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On December 29, 2015, about 0618 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N914CP, was destroyed after impacting the side of an office building in Anchorage, Alaska. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska about 0600.
Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying in an easterly direction and very low over the city of Anchorage, just before striking the northwest corner of the office building. The airplane's right wing struck the building between the fourth and fifth floors, which severed the entire wing at the fuselage attachment points. The airplane's wreckage continued traveling east while descending into an adjacent office building. It subsequently struck an electrical transformer, and a postcrash fire incinerated the airplane wreckage.
The closest weather reporting facility is Merrill Field Airport, Anchorage, Alaska, about 2 miles east of the accident site. At 0553, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Merrill Field Airport was reporting in part: Wind from 170 degrees at 8 knots, gusting to 18 knots; sky condition, few clouds at 7,000 feet; visibility, 10 statute miles; temperature 48 degrees F, dew point 26 degrees F; altimeter, 29.57 inHg.
According to CAP management personnel the flight had not been authorized. The Anchorage office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has assumed jurisdiction and control of the investigation.
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email email@example.com.
Hours before an Anchorage man was killed while piloting an unauthorized flight, police and medics responded to an emergency call at the pilot's home.
Doug Demarest, 42, died when a Civil Air Patrol plane that he did not have permission to fly struck downtown buildings early Tuesday morning. The FBI has joined the National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the crash.
Recordings of police dispatch traffic indicate a woman had called for an emergency response because her husband was incapacitated and not responding appropriately to questions.
The woman was concerned because her husband would not provide a direct answer as to whether he had attempted "11-28," authorities could be heard saying. 11-28 is a police code for suicide.
Police have declined to talk about the visit, other than saying a person was medically evaluated at the home.
Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro would not say Thursday whether the people involved in the emergency call were the Demarests. She has confirmed that police and medics responded to a call from a home listed as theirs at 10:03 p.m. Monday. Police and medics stayed until 10:38 p.m.
“There was a patient who needed medical assistance,” Castro said.
Medics evaluated and cleared the patient, she said, with no one was transported to the hospital. The plane Demarest was piloting crashed less than eight hours later.
Story and photo gallery: http://www.ktuu.com
ANCHORAGE - The FBI is reviewing webcam photos in its investigation of Tuesday's Downtown Anchorage plane crash that killed pilot Doug Demarest and damaged the Brady and Carr-Gottstein buildings.
The series of images are from a webcam operated by borealisbroadband.net. The camera takes a photo every 60 seconds from atop the Denali Towers, looking northwest. Denali Towers is located a 2550 Denali St. between Northern Lights Boulevard and Fireweed Lane.
The footage is from Tuesday morning between roughly 6 a.m. and 6:18 a.m.
Horst Poepperl, the general manager of the webcam service, said the FBI called him on Thursday requesting the footage.
The National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment on the images.
In the video, a bright dot can be seen moving from right to left. Poepperl said it is some sort of aircraft that could going back and forth near downtown Anchorage.
Looking at the time stamp, between 06:16:07 and 06:17:07, Poepperl says you can see in the middle left of the picture the lights on some of the buildings appear to go out. He says this could be when the power went out on the block after the plane crashed.
The Alaska region chief for NTSB, which investigating along with the FBI, has said the impact was reported to 911 at 6:18 a.m.
Story and video: http://www.ktuu.com
The pilot who crashed a plane into two office buildings in downtown Anchorage Monday was not authorized to the fly the plane he was piloting, according to a press release from the Civil Air Patrol.
The pilot, identified in the release as 1st Lt. Doug Demarest, was killed when the CAP-owned Cessna 172S he was flying crashed just before 6:30 a.m. An official with CAP confirmed the plane’s tail number – N914CP — in an email Monday.
Demarest joined the Civil Air Patrol in 2010, the release states. The organization says it is “assisting local authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board with the investigation.”
Officials, speaking on background, confirmed the plane took off from Anchorage’s Merrill Field sometime Tuesday morning.
According to public record, Demarest was married to Katherine Demarest, a lawyer with Dorsey and Whitney, LLC. The law firm has an office inside the downtown Anchorage building hit by the plane Monday morning.
Demarest was part of the team of lawyers that recently worked alongside the Alaska Innocence Project and the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy to free the Fairbanks Four.
The “about” section of the website dougdemarest.com, which is still available here, says Doug Demarest was a “former National Park Service Ranger, Outward Bound instructor and NOLS instructor.”
The single-engine Cessna 172S clipped an office building at 1031 W. 4th Ave. before crashing into a building at 310 K St.
Flames caused by the crash damaged an electrical transformer in the area, knocking out power to about 600 customers, according to Municipal Light & Power.
Power has since been restored to almost all of the affected customers.
Update: Tues., Dec. 29 at 11:11 a.m.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stepped in to assist local law enforcement with the investigation into Monday morning’s plane crash in downtown Anchorage.
Officials with the FBI said there is no reason to believe the crash was terrorist related.
Additionally, crews have reopened 4th Ave. to traffic, but 3rd Ave. remains closed between K St. and L St. as the investigation continues.
While officials continue to investigate the crash, one local pilot says he feels lucky a similar incident with his own plane ended differently.
Bruce Webb works in a building next to the crash site and has been a pilot for 40 years. He had to make an emergency landing in downtown Anchorage on Seventh Avenue in 2000.
“It was pretty unnerving. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. School buses, kids, traffic. You look for the clearest spot and head toward that,” Webb recalled. “I walked away but the plane was totaled.”
Webb said it’s hard to look at the wreckage knowing the pilot wasn’t as fortunate as he was.
“It’s tough. Anchorage is the largest small aircraft airport in the world. There are a lot of us pilots out here. It’s tragic when one of us don’t walk away.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is at the scene. The start of the investigation was delayed until fire crews were able to put out the post-crash fire, but heavy winds in the area hindered progress.
The plane was part of the Civil Air Patrol (either a Cessna 172 or Cessna 182) and contained one person, the pilot, according to NTSB spokesman Clint Johnson.
“[Anchorage police] made contact with Civil Air Patrol management … there were no sanctioned flights for this time of the day at this point,” said Johnson. “What we’re trying to do is to put those parts of the pieces together to see how it happened or how the airplane ended up where it is.”
Johnson said it’s still unclear what caused the plane to crash.
“Usually you cross Anchorage above 500 feet,” Webb noted. “Looks like he was 150 feet, so that’s pretty low. I’m not sure why you’d be flying that low unless you absolutely have to.”
Both buildings hit are owned by Carrs-Gottstein Properties, says Mike Thomas, second floor manager of the Whale Building at Pacific Office Center.
“You could see the dumpster on fire behind the building and a pile of debris right next to it,” Thomas said of the crash aftermath. ”It was a little apocalyptic-looking, with the strobes going and the blackness.”
Noting the magnitude of the disaster, Thomas says, fortunately, “this occurred two hours previous, and not at 9 o’clock, say, when we would’ve had a gentleman in that office, people in the Brady Building, in adjacent offices.”
Story, video, comments and photos: http://www.ktva.com
A small Civil Air Patrol plane crashed into two downtown Anchorage buildings early Tuesday morning, killing the pilot and sparking a fire.
The aircraft’s pilot and sole occupant, Doug Demarest, a first lieutenant with the CAP, was killed in the crash, according to officials from CAP and the FBI. The flight was not sanctioned by CAP, according to a spokesperson for the agency.
Staci Feger-Pellessier, a spokeswoman for the FBI, said that officials don’t believe the crash was an act of terrorism.
Demarest was married to Kate Demarest, an attorney for the Anchorage office of the national law firm Dorsey and Whitney. Her office was on the sixth floor of the Brady Building, the first downtown office building struck by the plane.
Kate Demarest recently played a role defending the Fairbanks Four, a case involving group of young men recently released from prison after being convicted of murder more than a decade ago.
"Based on the very limited facts we have, we believe it was a personal tragedy and a tragedy for this family," said Bryn Vaaler, chief marketing officer with Dorsey and Whitney’s office in Minneapolis. "She is a valued employee and is obviously involved in a personal tragedy, so that’s all I can tell you."
Employees at the Anchorage office were asked to stay home Tuesday, Vaaler said.
A woman who appeared to be Demarest based on her profile picture at the law firm's website answered the door at a home owned by the couple Tuesday afternoon. She appeared to be crying. The woman declined to identify herself or answer any questions.
A website maintained by Doug Demarest said he was a former National Park Service ranger and Outward Bound instructor as well as a photographer who enjoyed taking pictures of the outdoors and adventure enthusiasts. The website said he and Kate had a child.
The photo galleries and other details at www.dougdemarest.com have been taken down, but some material has been preserved by the Wayback Machine, which periodically archives Web pages.
National Transportation Safety Board Alaska Region Chief Clinton Johnson said the FBI was brought into the investigation because of unspecified evidence investigators uncovered. "Some evidence warrant(ed) us bringing them into the investigation," said Johnson, who declined to elaborate further.
The plane crashed at about 6:18 a.m. Tuesday, first hitting the Brady Building, an office building on West Fourth Avenue, about four stories from the ground, then crashing into the nearby Whale Building, where it ignited a fire.
Anchorage police spokeswoman Anita Shell said the plane was reported as fully engulfed in flames within minutes.
Several blocks of downtown, including Third and Fourth avenues, from I Street to L Street, were blocked off for several hours as officials from multiple agencies sought first to extinguish the fire and then investigate the crash.
Investigators from the NTSB were at the scene investigating early Tuesday, while staff from the State Medical Examiner Office were seen removing a body from the plane's wreckage. By 6:53 a.m., Anchorage Fire Department officials said the fire was extinguished and firefighters were working to control smoke in buildings.
The Brady Building, at 1031 W. Fourth Ave., is a 90,000-square-foot downtown office building. AFD Assistant Chief Alex Boyd said no one was inside the office area where the plane hit, with damage mostly to the exterior.
The building -- along with a second affected building, the Carr Gottstein or "Whale" Building, at 310 K St. -- houses offices of the state departments of Law and Corrections and the District Attorney's Office. Both offices were closed Tuesday morning, though the Brady Building was reopened around 1 p.m. The Carr Gottstein Building remained closed as the "situation continues to be assessed," the Department of Administration reported.
The plane first struck the Brady Building as it crashed, then hit the Carr Gottstein Building, according to accounts from officials and eyewitnesses. The latter building was scorched in the post-crash fire, with exposed insulation on the side of the building flapping in the wind Tuesday afternoon.
An inspection by fire officials determined the buildings weren't structurally damaged, Feger-Pellessier said. There were no injuries on the ground, according to Boyd.
The crash also caused power outages downtown.
Boyd said the airplane struck an electrical transformer on the outside of a building as it crashed, forcing authorities to shut down power to the area.
Power to roughly 600 downtown customers “was knocked out due to the fire from the plane crash,” Harris said, but power was restored to most downtown customers within half an hour.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz arrived at the scene around 8:30 a.m after he heard about the crash. He said in a phone interview the fire was under control by the time he got there, and he was impressed by the response of the police and fire departments.
“They had taken what could have been a potentially very dangerous situation, and managed it exceptionally well,” Berkowitz said.
Andy Dixon, a forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Anchorage office, said aviation weather reports from around Anchorage at 6 a.m. were similar.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport was reporting scattered clouds at 7,000 feet and overcast clouds at 19,000 feet, with “nothing low-level.” Winds from the southeast were at 17 knots, with gusts to 25 knots.
Merrill Field, the airfield east of downtown Anchorage where the Civil Air Patrol’s Polaris Composite Squadron is based, reported few clouds at 7,000 feet and overcast clouds at 20,000 feet, with winds from the south at 8 knots gusting to 18 knots.
Dixon said both airport and Merrill Field observers reported 10 miles of visibility, with little change in any of the three facilities’ next weather reports an hour later at 7 a.m.
“It’s not appreciably different,” Dixon said. “It’s been pretty similar conditions across all of the three sites for most of the morning.”
The Civil Air Patrol is a federally chartered auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Its volunteer members conduct search and rescue operations as well as disaster relief.
In 2015, the Alaska patrol consisted of 573 senior members and 187 cadets, according to an fact sheet provided by CAP national public affairs Deputy Director Julie DeBardelaben in Alabama. Its fleet was comprised for 28 aircraft and three gliders.
The Air Force credited the Alaska patrol for saving one life this year based on a mission, DeBardelaben said. She said the wing was also credited with finding 29 other people in search-and-rescue operations in the state.
Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said CAP regularly participates in emergency preparedness exercises organized by the state. He said the patrol helps with statewide rescues.
At Merrill Field, maintenance crews conducting a routine morning check of hangars at the field between 6 and 7 a.m.found a hangar operated by the CAP’s Polaris Composite Squadron with its main door open, airport manager Paul Bowers said.
“There was no breach in the security fence and there were no signs of forced entry,” Bowers said.
The maintenance workers didn’t note whether any aircraft were missing, Bowers said, but simply secured the hangar before alerting the squadron’s head, Maj. Randy Smith.
“The door was left open and of course there’s a fairly substantial south wind, and the door was facing directly into it,” Bowers said, adding that seeing a hangar door left open at the field was uncommon. He likened it to leaving a garage door open at a home, noting that it exposes the contents to both theft and the elements.
“Hangar doors are generally not left open because they are generally not empty boxes,” Bowers said. “It’s unusual to have the hangar doors left open; it’s not illegal or immoral, but it’s not common.”
In a statement released by the Civil Air Patrol’s national headquarters in Alabama, the agency said that Demarest joined CAP in 2010, but that he “was not authorized to fly the aircraft.”
CAP became aware of the errant aircraft around 6:45 a.m. -- 20 minutes after the crash -- when the Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage called to report that a beacon was going off on the aircraft, said the Civil Air Patrol's DeBardelaben.
NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson says initial accounts suggest the plane approached Anchorage from over Cook Inlet before it crashed.
Eyewitnesses, meanwhile, described the plane as circling before the crash.
"I seen the plane coming in and it did a total complete turn and then boom," said Thomas Connell, who witnessed the crash.
"It flew over us twice and then crashed," Connell said. "It was just way low, and then it started sinking on in."
"I heard it circling and I knew it was having problems," said Mike Coumbe, who lives a few blocks away. "I heard the plane and tried to see the plane and I heard it hit -- it just stopped."
Inside Snow City Cafe across the street, a group of about five employees was beginning work for the day when the plane crashed, according to Vince Maiorano, a cook at the downtown eatery.
"We heard a noise -- a loud 'whooshing' noise -- didn’t know what it was," Maiorano said.
As the employees stepped outside, the plane -- which had just hit the transformer, knocking out power to the cafe -- was just beginning to catch fire, said Maiorano, who captured video of the wreckage.