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Dustin Safranek, Ketchikan Daily News

Sister remembers Utahn killed in Alaska sightseeing plane crash

By Ashley Imlay, KSL | Posted - May 15th, 2019 @ 9:42pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — A family member and neighbors Monday remembered a Utah couple killed when two sightseeing planes collided early this week in Alaska.

Ryan Wilk, 38, was an "amazing man, son, husband, brother and uncle," said his sister, Shannon Wilk.

Wilk and his wife, Elsa Wilk, 37, split their time between their Salt Lake-area home and Vancouver, Shannon Wilk said. Elsa Wilk was from Canada and the couple was awaiting her residency before officially moving to Utah.

The couple both died in Monday's crash, along with Elsa Wilk's brother.

"We are completely devastated that we lost these three loved ones as well as the others and their families," Shannon Wilk said.

She remembered her brother as "the best big brother a girl could ask for."

The planes collided about 12:21 p.m. in southeast Alaska at 3,300 feet. The crash occurred as a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 descended from 3,800 feet and hit a smaller de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy reported Wednesday during a news conference.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

The combined 14 passengers on the planes had all been traveling on the same Royal Princess cruise ship, according to the Associated Press. Six people, including one of the pilots, died and 10 were injured.

Homendy said preliminary data showed there was nothing abnormal about the descent of the larger plane. That plane was recovered Wednesday afternoon, while crews were expected to finish recovering the smaller plane before the end of the evening.

Investigators will later reconstruct the planes' structures "to see how they came together," Homendy said.

A lot of work on the investigation had been done as of Wednesday afternoon, Homendy said, including interviews with the surviving pilot and passengers.

She said she did not yet know what had been discovered in those interviews.

Neighbors of the Wilks in the Daybreak community remembered the couple as friendly and outgoing. Ryan Wilk worked in the technology industry, according to neighbors.

"We had fun getting to know them the little bit that we did, so when we heard about the accident this morning, it was quite a shock because you don't expect that's going to happen to your next-door neighbor," Emily Farrer said.

Contributing: Mary Richards, Sean Moody


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