Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Husband of US congresswoman dies while piloting small aircraft

The husband of Alaska Representative Mary Peltola has died in a plane crash, her office confirmed.

Eugene ‘Buzzy’ Peltola Jr was killed after a small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after taking off in St Mary’s, Alaska, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The plane took off around 8.45pm on Tuesday evening, and crashed moments later. Peltola was the plane’s only occupant.

Peltola was married to Rep Mary Peltola, who serves as a member of the House of Representatives for Alaska’s at-large district.

Rep Peltola took office after winning a special election in 2022 against former Alaska Governor and one time Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She became the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress.

Rep Peltola’s office confirmed her husband’s death on Wednesday.

‘He was one of those people who was obnoxiously good at everything,’ Peltola’s chief of staff Anton McParland said in a statement. ‘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 he simply adored Mary.’

Eugene Peltola was a retired local politician and businessman, serving as a former city councilmember and Vice Mayor of Bethel, Alaska.

He was also a former member of the Orutsararmiut Native Council, a federally recognized tribal government in Bethel.

Peltola was an Alaska Native of Yupik and Tlingit descent, and served as the Regional Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 2018 to his retirement in 2022.

Rep Peltola is currently returning to Alaska to be with her family, and has asked for privacy while she grieves.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said she was ‘shocked, saddened and truly beyond words’ after hearing the news of Eugene’s death.

‘Anyone who met Buzzy felt his warmth, generosity and charm,’ she said. ‘It was easy to see why so many Alaskans called him a friend, and how he was so loved by his family. He was Mary’s number one supporter and truly her rock.’

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