On June 29, 1993, at approximately 1025 Alaska daylight time, a passenger deplaned from a parked commuter airplane at Gambell, Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska, and was seriously injured when she intentionally walked into the arc of the left idling engine propeller of a standing Bering Air PA-31-350 airplane, N4112D, operating as Flight 4660. At the time of the accident, Flight 4660 was operating under the scheduled commuter flight rules of 14 CFR Part 135, under defense flight rules (DVFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR). Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airline transport rated pilot in command and his six passengers on board were not injured and the airplane did not sustain any damage. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The injured passenger told an Alaska State Trooper following her medical evacuation to Nome, that she had been aware of her act of walking into the airplane's propeller. (See Alaska State Trooper report attached and transcript.)
A witness to the accident stated that the injured passenger said as she received first aid, "God told me to do this, I will not die!" and "Stop, I'm alright! Just keep on praying with [sic] God told me to do this I will not die!" (see statement of Zinnie Naomi Nowpakohok of Gambell, Alaska.)
A blood alcohol and drug screen report for the injured passenger was negative.
In an interview with the Bering Air pilot in command, the NTSB was told that after starting engines, the pilot was completing cockpit duties prior to taxi and was surprised by the sight of the woman approaching the idling left engine from along the leading edge of the left wing. The pilot shouted a warning and closed the mixture controls for both engines, however the woman turned and presented her buttocks to the propeller arc. The propeller struck the woman's posterior and legs several times before throwing her to the ground, witnesses reported. Other witnesses reported the woman "flying" from the contact.
The NTSB learned from the Bering Air management that a company station agent was on vacation and that her replacement "had left a few minutes before (the incident) for town on his 4-wheeler with mail." The investigation revealed that the injured passenger had deplaned from a Ryan Air flight during a stopover at Gambell. The Ryan flight had boarded the passenger at Savoonga, also on Saint Lawrence Island, and was scheduled to depart for Nome after the planned departure of Bering Air flight 4660. The Ryan Air representative in Nome also stated to the NTSB that the Ryan station agent had also left for town before the accident.
Both the Bering and Ryan Air management said that their safety policy stressed ramp safety in the training of their station agents.