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Alaska Mourns Death of Former Senator

By: CBS
By: CBS

The state of Alaska is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved political figures, former senator Ted Stevens.

He and four others died Monday when their plane slammed into a mountain with such force officials say it left a 300 foot gash on the slope.

Investigators are combing the remote mountainside where former Alaska senator Ted Stevens lost his life.

"We're looking to see whether or not there were any pilot reports, distress signals, whether there was any signal from an emergency locator," said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairman.

He and four others were killed when their plane went down 325 miles southwest of Anchorage. The group of nine was headed out on a fishing trip.

Four others survived the crash including former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe and his teenage son. They were left stranded overnight until rescuers could reach them.

"They can provide us with the best information about sitting location and survivability, but our first priority is for their health," said Hersman.

Investigators are looking into weather as a possible cause, noting conditions at the time included light rain, clouds and gusty winds.

Stevens served 40 years in the Senate, longer than any other republican in history. His unexpected death has left lawmakers stunned.

"Our hearts are broken, lives are shattered and we have lost one of the greatest leaders that this state will ever see," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK.

Stevens was extremely popular in his home state. He directed billions to Alaska, including the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" which became a symbol of pork-barrel spending.

In 2008, he was convicted of corruption, and then lost a battle for reelection. The charges were later dropped because prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense.

"Home is where the heart is, Mr. President,” Stevens said. “If that is so, I have two homes. One is right here in this chamber and the other is my beloved state of Alaska.”

Ted Stevens was 86-years-old.


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