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Rep. Mary Peltola's husband dies after plane crash in Alaska

Washington — The husband of Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola of Alaska has died after a plane crash in her home state, her office announced Wednesday. Eugene Peltola Jr. died Wednesday morning, her chief of staff shared in a statement.

"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," Peltola's chief of staff Anton McParland wrote. "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. He was completely devoted to his parents, kids, siblings, extended family, and friends — and simply adored Mary."

The statement said the congresswoman "is returning home to be with their family, and we ask that their privacy be respected during this time."

On Thursday, though, she thanked those who had reached out to her, and said that condolences could be sent to her district office in Anchorage.

"To everyone who has reached out, from Alaska to D.C. and everywhere in between, thank you," Peltola said on X. "You have made a dark time just a little lighter."

Peltola's office did not share any additional details about the nature of the accident, but the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday morning that it was investigating the crash of a single-engine Piper PA 18-150 Super Cub near St. Mary's, a small town in western Alaska. The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash resulted in a single fatality. 

Peltola, a Democrat who beat former Rep. Sarah Palin in a special election last year, is Alaska's only representative in the House. She is also the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress. She spoke at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage on Monday when President Biden visited to commemorate 22 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Representative Mary Peltola speaks to service members, first responders, and their families, as President Biden visits Anchorage on Sept. 11, 2023.
Rep. Mary Peltola speaks to service members, first responders and their families, as President Biden visits Anchorage on Sept. 11, 2023. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / REUTERS

Alaska politicians are no strangers to tragic plane deaths. Former Sen. Ted Stevens died in a single-engine plane crash in Alaska in 2010, having previously survived a crash in 1978. Alaska's at-large congressional seat was made vacant last year when Rep. Don Young, then the oldest member of Congress, died of natural causes on a plane to Seattle while traveling home to Alaska. Young won that seat decades earlier after the state's then-representative went missing and was presumed dead in a plane crash. 

Nick Kurtz contributed reporting.

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