Posted Aug 10, 2010 07:15 pm CDT
After conflicting reports earlier in the day, CNN and other news media are now stating that the death of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in a small plane crash near Dillingham, Alaska, last night has been confirmed. Stevens was 86 years old.
Earlier, longtime family friend and former aide Dave Dittman told KTUU that he received an overnight call alerting him that Stevens was dead.
However, the Anchorage Daily News then reported that Dittman wasn’t certain Stevens had died and said he and the Stevens family were still trying to confirm the information.
The identities of the other four people who died in the crash are not yet known. Also reportedly among the eight or nine people aboard was former NASA Chief Sean O’Keefe.
Rescuers and investigators have had difficulty reaching the scene because of weather conditions, according to KTUU, an NBC affiliate. An Air National Guard spokesman said volunteers were providing help in the meantime.
Stevens, who had been the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, made headlines in 2008 when he was convicted in a political corruption case and again in 2009, when his conviction was reversed at the request of the Department of Justice, amidst accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
He also made headlines in 1978, when he survived another plane crash that killed his wife and four others, notes another CNN article.
A decorated Army Air Corps veteran who piloted cargo planes during World War II, Stevens earned degrees at the University of California-Los Angeles and Harvard Law School after his military service.
He practiced law briefly in Alaska before being named the United States attorney in Fairbanks in 1953. After serving in the Interior Department under the Eisenhower administration he returned to private practice in 1960. Elected in 1964 to the state legislature, he served there until he was first appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1968 and then elected in 1970.
Known for routing federal funds to his home state, “Stevens spent his career serving on the Appropriations Committee, chairing the powerful spending panel from 1997 to 2005—except for a short period between 2001 and 2002 when Democrats controlled the Senate,” recounts Politico.
Despite a legendary temper, Stevens was well-liked among his colleagues and admired as a war hero, the political site notes.
“I always knew that there would be a day when the cloud that surrounded me would be removed. That day has finally come,” Stevens said in a written statement in April 2009 after his conviction was reversed. “It is unfortunate that an election was affected by proceedings now recognized as unfair. It was my great honor to serve the state of Alaska in the United States Senate for 40 years.”
ABAJournal.com (April 2009): “U.S. Moves to Drop Charges Against Sen. Stevens”
ABAJournal.com (April 2009): “Special Prosecutor to Investigate Government Lawyers in Sen. Stevens Case”
ABAJournal.com (June 2009): “DOJ’s Corruption Unit a Mess After Stevens Case”