7 Die in Midair Collision, Including Alaska Lawmaker

A tragedy occurred in Alaska on Friday. According to CNN, two small planes collided in the air on Friday morning in Soldotna, killing all seven people aboard both aircraft. One of the planes was being piloted by state Rep. Gary Knopp of Kenai, who was the only person on board his aircraft. He was 67.

There were six individuals in the other plane that was involved in this collision. There was a pilot, a guide, and four people in their 20s from South Carolina on that plane. State troopers said that all six people died at the scene of the collision except for one individual who died while they were being taken to the hospital. According to an official update on the website of Alaska's Department of Public Safety, the seven victims were identified as Knopp, Pilot Gregory Bell, 57, from Soldotna, Guide David Rogers, 40, from Kansas, and four individuals from South Carolina — Caleb Hulsey, 26, Heather Hulsey, 25, Mackay Hulsey, 24, and Kristin Wright, 23.

Following the news of this tragic event, Commissioner Amanda Price of the Department of Public Safety shared a statement in which she expressed her condolences to all of the victims' families. “This is an unfathomable tragedy for multiple families today. The DPS sends a heartfelt condolence to all who lost a loved one in this mid-air collision,” her statement read. “Troopers and partner agencies have worked together diligently at the scene and have reached out to next of kin to notify them of this heartbreaking incident.”

Governor Mike Dunleavy released a statement on Twitter regarding this tragedy. In his message, which he penned on Friday shortly after the incident took place, he shared that the United States flag and the Alaska state flag will be flying at half-staff in honor of Representative Knopp until sunset on Monday. "The First Lady and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to Representative Knopp's family as they mourn his untimely passing," Dunleavy wrote. "Throughout his 42 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Gary became well known as an avid outdoorsman, a skilled pilot, & a dedicated public servant." He added, in a subsequent tweet, "His presence will no doubt be missed by those he faithfully served." Dunleavy's tweets prompted others to weigh in on this matter, with one user issuing their condolences to all of those who died, writing, "Prayers for the families and close friends of those who lost their lives."