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“Then there was silence:” Inside the Ted Stevens-Sean O’Keefe plane crash

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Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe

The Washington Post just posted this gripping story detailing the aftermath of the August plane crash that claimed the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens and very nearly killed former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe. There’s some harrowing details as the survivors take stock of their injuries and lost friends family members, but also some inspiring strength on display.

The job of searching the plane fell to 13-year-old Willy Phillips, who had a battered and broken ankle but was the only one able to move.

“Where’s my dad?” he asked.

“He’s right here with me,” O’Keefe responded, leaving it at that. [...]

Willy made the search.

Nothing. No phone, no radio, no medical kit.

Willy, dragging his leg, crawled outside to see whether something might been thrown free of the plane. Other than the overwhelming smell of jet fuel, there was nothing out there but rain and the thickening clouds.

“Is my dad alive?” he asked.

Willy was back in the plane, staring at O’Keefe in the pale light from the porthole.

“No. He’s in a much better place.”

Most kids, O’Keefe thought, would withdraw to a corner after hearing that and not be heard from again. As Willy struggled to hold it together, O’Keefe realized this kid wasn’t one of them. He had his dad’s guts.

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AP: O’Keefe in critical condition

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Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe

The Associated Press reports that former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe is in critical condition after the plane crash that claimed the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens. O’Keefe and his son Kevin — who also survived Monday’s crash and is listed in serious condition — suffered broken bones and other injuries.

Five people, including Stevens, died in the crash. The AP says that authorities are studying the weather patterns from that night to figure out what caused the small plane to go down.

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Reuters: O’Keefe survived plane crash; Stevens dead at 86

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Reuters reports that former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and his son survived the plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens last night.

The Washington Post’s obituary for Stevens is online here. And President Obama just released the following statement:

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. 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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Report: Ex-Sen. Stevens, former NASA administrator believed aboard crashed plane

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Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe are believed to have been aboard a plane that crashed in southwest Alaska last night, according to the Associated Press.

O’Keefe is chief executive officer of defense contractor EADS North America. EADS told the AP that O’Keefe was on board the plane. Friends of Stevens think he was a passenger as well, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The Alaska National Guard said there are possible fatalities in the crash, but Stevens’ and O’Keefe’s conditions are currently unknown.

UPDATE: The National Transportation Safety Board says nine people were aboard, and five of them are dead. Still no word on Stevens and O’Keefe.

UPDATE 2: CNN reported shortly before 2:30 p.m. that Stevens is one of the five passengers who were killed.

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