Alumni, Duke Student Injured on Alaska Trip

A small sightseeing plane crashed Tuesday in steep, rugged terrain in southeast Alaska, killing one person and injuring six others, including four Duke alumni and a student.

The flight was an optional tour as part of the Duke Alumni Travel program, "Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness," with Lindblad Expeditions. The Rev. Frank Allen '81, his wife Amy '81, and their three sons Will '10, Rob '13 and current Duke student Ben '16, were evacuated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Frank, Will and Rob Allen suffered non-life threatening injuries and have been released from a local hospital. Amy and Ben Allen were flown to Seattle, where both underwent successful surgeries for injuries sustained in the crash.

The name of the passenger who died in the crash has not been released.

"While we are tremendously relieved that our alumni and student are okay, we are deeply saddened that a fellow passenger lost his life in this tragic accident," says Sterly Wilder '83, associate vice president of alumni affairs. "Our hearts go out to the family of the passenger who was killed."       

Duke law professor Thomas Metzloff, who is on the trip as a faculty host, says the Allens are well and it is "simply a miracle that they survived." Metzloff praised the Alaska State Troopers, the Coast Guard, the medical community in Petersburg, Alaska, and the Lindblad Expeditions crew for their swift and compassionate actions. He added that the 22 additional Duke alumni and friends on the trip have been a source of support and strength.

Lee Fleischer, expedition leader for Lindblad, says that Rev. Allen, in particular, was "an amazing pillar of strength and a constant source of wisdom and perspective" following the accident.

"We have heard of Frank's strength during this ordeal and know that this is the special and extraordinary man that he is," says Wilder. "Our thoughts and prayers go to him, Amy, Will, Rob and Ben as they recover from this terrible accident."