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Air Force colonel one of 2 men killed when small plane crashed into Alaska lake

Anchorage, Alaska — An Air Force colonel who was director of operations for the Alaskan Command was one of two men whose bodies were found in a small plane that crashed into a remote lake, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said Thursday.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaskan Command identified the men as Col. Mark "Tyson" Sletten, 46, of Anchorage, and Paul Kondrat, 41, of Utah.

They were aboard a small plane on an instructional flight that crashed into Crescent Lake near Moose Pass on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, authorities said.

Two hikers had notified troopers that they saw a plane crash there Tuesday afternoon.

A public safety department helicopter and U.S. Fish and Wildlife float plane went to the area and found debris on the lake but no signs of survivors in the water or on shore.

A team from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center that included volunteers from the Alaska Dive, Search, Rescue, and Recovery Team were searching at the lake Thursday, troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel said in an email. He said the team was using sonar, remotely operated vehicles and trained divers to search areas of interest previously identified in the lake, which is over 200 feet deep in some areas.

The public safety department said later that searchers found the plane in about 193 feet of water in one of the areas of interest identified Wednesday with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Divers and an ROV floated the plane and towed it to shore. The bodies were taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy.

The National Transportation Safety Board will try to find out what caused the crash.  

The Alaskan Command, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, conducts homeland defense missions, civil support and security. It's part of the U.S. Northern Command.

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