Two of the unsung heroes of the Federal Aviation Administration were killed yesterday and two of their coworkers injured when the helicopter ferrying them from Fire Island to Anchorage went down in Cook Inlet.
Employees of the FAA in Alaska are grieving for the loss Joyce L. "Aver" Tucker and Ronald L. Frizzell, who along with Steven C. Durand and William Dick had flown to Fire Island Thursday to repair a navigation aid and prevent an outage.
Steve Durand and William Dick remain in the hospital in serious condition.
On my first day in Alaska, I said, " If you are an FAA employee in the Alaskan Region, you are part of the family." That proved to be a fact, which today is demonstrated in our sense of loss, says Patrick Poe, FAA Alaskan Region Regional Administrator.
The FAA Alaskan Region is small in terms of the number of employees, which makes for a close knit family. One that is part of Alaska's overall aviation community. Our employees take pride in their mission to ensure that aviation is safe for the flying public. The employees of the Airway Facilities work behind the scenes to ensure that more than 1,700 navigational aids remain in working order so that flights can occur on schedule. Many times these dedicated men and women travel under difficult conditions to restore a facility in a remote location. They fly, go by snowmachine do what it takes to keep the navigational aids operational every hour and every day.
Joyce L. "Aver" Tucker, 46, and Ronald L. Frizzell, 54, were airways systems specialists working out of the Turnagain Systems Service Center in Anchorage. The staff provides support for the navigational aids serving Stevens International Airport. Tucker had worked for the FAA since 1983. She joined the agency in 1975 starting as an engineering aid and worked in Nome, Fairbanks, Kenai, and Anchorage. She had received a number of special service awards including one for work during the clean up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Ron Frizzell, a Viet Nam conflict veteran, joined the agency in 1987. He worked as an electrician and maintenance mechanic and was the recipient of several Special Act Service awards.
We are also saddened by the loss of veteran aviator Robert Larson of ERA Aviation. He had made several trips transporting FAA field technicians to Fire Island and Lake Clark to perform various tasks. Another FAA crew remained on the island overnight once the accident occurred.
Last night the FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta remained in close contact with us following in detail the rescue attempt in progress. They join with Alaska's FAA employees in extending our collective heartfelt appreciation for those who participated in the rescue attempts and for the caring concern extended to the families of our four colleagues.