3 New Brunswickers in Alaskan plane crash expected to fully recover

A Fredericton man and his two sisters-in-law, who were injured in a plane crash in Alaska last weekend, are all expected to make a full recovery.

Darrel Spencer, of Fredericton, doing 'very well' following back surgery, business partner says

It could take up to nine months to complete the investigation into what caused a plane crash in Alaska that left three vacationing New Brunswickers injured, officials say. (Courtesy of Maynard Wilson/KTUU)

A Fredericton man and his two sisters-in-law, who were injured in a plane crash in Alaska last weekend, are all expected to make a full recovery.

Darrel Spencer, 66, is doing "very well" following his back surgery at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. He is in high spirits and anxious to get home, according to fellow financial adviser and business partner Dan Moore.

Darrel Spencer, a Fredericton financial adviser, is expected to return to work within weeks, his business partner says. (Submitted)
Spencer wants to thank "everybody for their concerns and their prayers. He wants to let everybody know that he is OK — friends and clients," Moore said.

"He will be back to work. He is still going to be the same Darrell," except his doctors say his back will be a little straighter than it was before, he said.

"We don't have timelines, but it will be some time within the next few weeks, so it was a good prognosis."

Spencer's sisters-in-law, Marcene Nason, 65, and Daphne McCann, 57, who were were flown to Vancouver for treatment, are also expected to recover.

Pilot in 2008 crash

The pilot, Forest Kirst, 57, of Fairbanks, is in critical condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, according to an email to CBC News on Thursday from his daughter, Jessica Garcia. Health officials had previous indicated he was in "fair" condition.

Kirst has declined to comment.

This is not the first accident he has been involved in. In 2008, there was a mid-air collision of two Cessnas, about a half mile from the approach end of a runway at the Fairbanks International Airport. Both planes landed safely and no one was injured in that case.

The investigation into the latest crash is ongoing. U.S. National Transportation Safety Board officials will be examining the wreckage to determine if there were any mechanical problems and will interview the pilot as soon as he's well enough.

Spencer doesn't remember anything about the crash, said Moore.

He was vacationing with family in Alaska and about to embark on a Princess cruise ship on Sunday when he and his sisters-in-law decided to take a chartered sightseeing flight excursion through Atigun Pass.

Spencer, an avid photographer, was hoping to get some photographs of polar bears in the area, said Moore.

The four-seater Navion single-engine, low-wing plane went down in the remote area at about 1:45 p.m. local time.

It crashed about 400 feet below the 4,700-foot summit in a very rocky, unstable area and sustained significant damage, officials have said.

The investigation could take up to nine months to conclude, they said.