Former senator killed in plane crash

Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens was among the five people killed Monday in an airplane crash near Dillingham, Alaska, according to media reports.

Former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe was also on the DeHavilland DHC-3T when it crashed, but survived the crash, according to reports.

“Sen. Ted Stevens was a good friend and an esteemed colleague who served his country with honor in World War II and with distinction in the Senate,” U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said in a statement. “He will be remembered for his passion and his many, many years of service to his constituents. Julianne and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Catherine, and their family.”

According to the National Guard, nine people were on the plane when it crashed. Weather initially hindered the search and rescue operation.

“I deeply regret the loss of a great American and Alaska’s first citizen, Ted Stevens,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a statement. “Ted fought for his country in World War II, led Alaska to statehood and served her with distinction for many years in the U.S. Senate. I extend my sympathies to his family and loved ones.”

Stevens, a Republican, was a powerful senator who brought billions in earmarks to his state. He is perhaps best-known for the “Bridge to Nowhere,” often cited as an example of Congressional earmarks gone bad.

“Known as the ‘Lion of the Senate,’ he was also a distinguished patriot dedicating his life to America and constitutional principles,” Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said in a statement. “(He) was a father, a grandfather, a husband and a personal friend to countless Alaskans. We will miss him greatly.”

In 2008, Stevens lost his bid for re-election after he was charged in federal court with seven counts of making false statements. He was convicted, but the case was later dismissed after federal prosecutors were accused of misconduct.

“A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform,” President Obama said in a statement. “Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Senator Stevens in this terrible accident.”

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