Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband, Eugene, was killed in a plane crash in Alaska Tuesday night, her office announced Wednesday.
A preliminary accident report from the Federal Aviation Agency said Eugene Peltola was the only person aboard the single-engine Piper PA-18, which went down near the remote village of St. Mary’s, roughly 500 miles west of Fairbanks.
The 50-year-old lawmaker, in Washington for the return of Congress from its August recess, planned to head home to the Last Frontier to be with her family.
“He was one of those people that was obnoxiously good at everything. He had a delightful sense of humor that lightened the darkest moments,” Peltola’s office said in a statement.
“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, also known as “Buzzy,” had been at Mary’s side in 2022 when she edged out Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin to become the first woman to represent Alaska in the House of Representatives.
Eugene served as Alaska regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 2017 to 2022 after a three-decade long career in the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Rose and I are shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of Gene Peltola. We will be praying for Mary, their children, and all of the Peltola family. Gene’s dedication to Alaska ran deep, and he will be dearly missed,” Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy wrote on social media.
“I am shocked, saddened and truly beyond words to express my grief at the loss of Gene Peltola Jr. Anyone who met Buzzy felt his warmth, generosity and charm. It was easy to see why so many Alaskans called him a friend, and how he was so loved by his family,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Mary Peltola’s predecessor, Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving Republican in congressional history, died in March 2022, triggering an August special election in which Peltola defeated Palin.
The Democrat also defeated the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee in the rematch that November.
Eugene was Mary’s third spouse.
The congresswoman has a total of seven children, including three stepchildren.
“Our team will continue to meet with constituents and carry on the work of the office while Mary and her family grieve,” the Wednesday statement said.
This is not the first time an Alaska plane crash has affected American politics.
In 2010, former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and four others died when a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter crashed near Dillingham en route to a private fishing lodge.
On Oct. 16, 1972, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-La.), Rep. Nick Begich (D-Alaska) and two others were lost when their twin-engine airplane disappeared while flying from Anchorage to Juneau.
The wreckage has never been found.
SOURCE: New york post