SOLDOTNA, Alaska (AP/WCSC) - Two Greenville families are among the victims in an Alaska plane crash that left 10 dead.
According to State Rep. Bruce Bannister, Milton "Milet" Antonakos, his wife, Kimberly, and their three children, Mills, Anna and Olivia, were killed in the crash in Soldotna, Alaska. Bannister was the Antonakos' neighbor.
Bannister said another Greenville family, Chris and Stacey McManus and their two children, Meghan and Conner, were also killed in the crash.
The Antonakos family usually vacationed together in Myrtle Beach, S.C., each summer, but the father of Kimberly Antonakos says his daughter and her family decided to travel to Alaska from their home in Greenville, S.C., for 10 days this year instead.
Investigators have begun their probe into the crash of a de Havilland DHC3 Otter that went down shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage.
A team of six investigators arrived at the crash site Monday around 9:45 eastern time. The Soldotna Police Department says the plane became fully engulfed in flames during takeoff. A Mt. Pleasant aviation expert believes overloading or an electrical malfunction was the cause.
"In take off accidents, you will see big fires just because there is such a large fuel source, and it doesn't take much to spark once the fumes are ignited," explains James Brauchle, an aviation attorney and pilot. "Unfortunately, most of these aircrafts will just turn into a fireball."
The tenth person killed in the crash, the pilot, is believed to be from Alaska, according to police. Flight instructor Joe Bustos says Alaska has the most airplanes per capita than any other state.
"Because the distances are so great and the terrain, in a lot of cases, is high, the only way you can get to remote areas is by an aircraft, and if you're going to go sightsee, it has to either be by airplane or, in some instances, train."
Officials say there was a light wind at the time of the crash, and skies were partly cloudy.