Alaska pilot sentenced for lying to accident investigators

    Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska pilot convicted of lying to federal investigators after a fatal 2014 crash has been sentenced to a 12-month prison term.

    The Anchorage Daily News reported Forest Kirst was found guilty of obstructing crash investigations performed by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

    A judge sentenced Kirst to a year and a day in prison, three years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

    A jury found Kirst not guilty on a federal charge of flying without a valid airman’s certificate but convicted him in November 2019 on two counts of obstructing the accident investigation. Federal prosecutors said Kirst misled investigators about his altitude and told several different versions about what happened immediately before the crash.

    During the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Kirst denied lying to investigators and blamed the crash on a propeller he said was improperly installed and came apart during the flight.

    Investigators determined the propeller came off during the crash.

    Three Canadian tourists and Kirst were all seriously injured when the August 2014 sightseeing flight crashed after leaving Bettles, 241 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

    Passenger Darrell Spencer died just over a month later.

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