Husband of Alaska Democrat Mary Peltola dies in plane crash

September 14, 2023
Matthew Boose

The husband of Alaska congresswoman Mary Peltola, Eugene "Buzzy" Peltola, died in a plane crash Tuesday night. 

The plane went down around 8:45 p.m. in a remote, mountainous region of western Alaska where Peltola had flown a hunter, National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy said Wednesday.

Husband of congresswoman dies

The single-engine Piper PA-18 crashed shortly after takeoff on the return flight, and Peltola was the sole occupant, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Two hunters gave first aid to Peltola, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, but he unfortunately died before a rescue team arrived.

Peltola, of indigenous descent, was the regional director of Alaska's Bureau of Indian Affairs, stepping down in 2022.

The sad news of his death was confirmed by Peltola's staff.

“We are devastated to share that Mary’s husband, Eugene Peltola Jr. — ‘Buzzy’ to all of us who knew and loved him — passed away earlier this morning following a plane accident in Alaska,” the statement said.

“He was one of those people that was obnoxiously good at everything. He had a delightful sense of humor that lightened the darkest moments. He was definitely the cook in the family. And family was most important to him," the statement said.

"He was completely devoted to his parents, kids, siblings, extended family, and friends - and he simply adored Mary. We are heartbroken for the family’s loss."

Both parties pay tribute

Members of both parties shared their condolences. Alaska Republican senator Lisa Murkowski said she is "shocked, saddened and truly beyond words."

"Anyone who met Buzzy felt his warmth, generosity, and charm. It was easy to see why so many Alaskans called him a friend, and how he was so loved by his family," she said.

House Democratic caucus leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) shared a statement as well.

“The entire House Democratic Caucus is mourning the loss of Buzzy, and we are lifting Mary and the Peltola family up in prayer,” Jeffries said. “We will be there for her in any way she needs during this unimaginable time of tragedy.”

Mary Peltola, a Democrat, defeated former Alaska governor Sarah Palin last year in a special election, flipping Alaska's single, at-large district blue for the first time in decades.

Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, a Republican, died in a plane accident in Alaska in 2010.

In 1972, House majority leader Hale Boggs and Alaska Rep. Nicholas Begich disappeared in a plane that left from Anchorage.

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