Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for Colonel Keith Mallard of the Alaska State Police, has reported that Alaska State Police Aviation Unit, Helo-1, crashed Saturday night during a rescue mission killing State Trooper Tage Toll and civilian Mel Nading.
Helo-1, piloted by civilian Mel Nading, with Trooper Tage Toll, 40, serving as the tactical navigation officer, started their mission at 7:35 p.m. Authorities at the Palmer Detachment learned of a stranded snowmobiler near Larson Lake. The helo crew took off from Anchorage headed northeast to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on a search and rescue mission.
Helo-1 located the stranded snowmobiler, landing just prior to 10:00 p.m. He was treated for his injuries on scene and on board Helo-1. They headed to a landing zone near Talkeetna to meet up with a ground medical team to continue treatment and transport to a local hospital.
Helo-1 notified ASP Dispatch at 11:17 p.m. that their rescue was successful and they were en route to Sunshine Tesoro, a landing zone near Talkeetna. Helo-1 never arrived. No further radio communication was transmitted by or received from them.
Kalei Rupp, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Air National Guard (AANG), stated that fog in Anchorage and a mandatory crew rest kept the agency’s helicopter on the ground until 5:00 a.m. Sunday. The AANG located the Helo-1 crash site at 9:20 a.m. The AANG helicopter landed at the crash site and found Helo-1 a charred hulk of twisted wreckage. No bodies were present within its cabin compartment.
As required by law, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will assume responsibility for the crash investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will assist and supplement the NTSB investigation.
“This is a huge and profound tragedy for us.” said, Megan Peters. “We can replace the helicopter, what we can’t replace are the lives that went down with it…it’s been a bad day. Helo-1 is our main helicopter…She, along with her crew, have rescued countless lives from the Alaska wilderness. A new helicopter had been ordered and intended for use in the Fairbanks area. It may be reassigned to replace Helo-1 in Anchorage, but it won’t be in service until this summer. The members of law enforcement, sworn and dedicated to duty, place themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. This tragic event is just the latest example of the self-sacrifice that officers make to save the lives of others.”
Trooper Tage Toll served with the Alaska State Police for 10 years. Previously, he had served with the Kansas Highway Patrol. Trooper Tage Toll, gone but never forgotten. EOW: Saturday, March 30, 2013
“Graphic created by Fellow Officer Rose Borisow GraFX”
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