WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of plane
manufacturer EADS North American unit, Sean O'Keefe,
and former Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were aboard a
plane that crashed in Alaska, and it was not immediately known
if they survived, a congressional source said Tuesday.
Half of those aboard the plane were killed in the crash and
a doctor is apparently on the scene, though rescuers are having
trouble reaching the site because of bad weather, the source
said, declining to be further identified.
Stevens, 86, was on a fishing trip in Alaska with former
members of his staff and their family, the congressional source
said, adding that the plane either crashed by a lake or into
the water. Stevens' wife, Catherine, was not on the plane.
Stevens lost his re-election bid in 2008 after he was
convicted on corruption charges, but the case was later thrown
out because of prosecutorial misconduct, including the
withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense lawyers.
While often gruff and short-tempered with staff, reporters,
and other senators, Stevens rose to become one of the most
powerful Republicans including head of the key Senate
Appropriations Committee which doled out billions of federal
dollars each year to states and communities.
Stevens became known for the proposed "Bridge to Nowhere,"
which became a symbol of out-of-control "pork barrel" spending.
The now-abandoned project would have linked the town of
Ketchikan to its island airport at a cost of $398 million.
Stevens was first appointed to the Senate in 1968 to fill
the seat vacated by the death of Democratic Sen. Bob Bartlett.
He won the seat in a special 1970 election and was repeatedly
re-elected by wide margins.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, James Vicini and Thomas
Ferraro, editing by Vicki Allen and Frances Kerry)