Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s husband killed in plane crash

Freshman congresswoman will return home after tragedy

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 13 September 2023 17:24
<p>Gene Peltola, centre, participates in the swearing-in of his wife, Congresswoman Mary Peltola, in January.</p>

Gene Peltola, centre, participates in the swearing-in of his wife, Congresswoman Mary Peltola, in January.

Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s husband Gene died on Wednesday morning in a plane crash, her office said in a statement.

The shocking tragedy comes shortly after her return to Congress with other lawmakers on Capitol Hill after the August recess.

Mr Peltola was a regional official for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He previously was in Washington in January, when he took part in his wife’s swearing-in.

In a statement, her office remembered Mr Peltola as family-oriented and (lovingly) as “obnoxiously good at everything”, adding that Ms Peltola would return home following the accident.

"We are devastated to share that Mary's husband, Eugene Peltola Jr. — 'Buzzy' to all of us who knew and loved him — passed away earlier this morning following a plane accident in Alaska," said Ms Peltola's chief of staff Anton McParland.

"We are heartbroken for the family's loss,” the statement continued. “Our team will continue to meet with constituents and carry on the work of the office while Mary and her family grieve.”

Plane crashes are an unfortunate reality of Alaskan politics. The nation’s 49th state to join the union, Alaska in general has a much higher rate of plane crashes than do the lower 48 — a result of the land’s often difficult terrain, tough weather conditions, and more.

As a result, the state’s congressional delegation is no stranger to tragedies in the sky. The state’s longest-serving US senator, Ted Stevens, died in plane crash in 2010.

Ms Peltola is a newcomer to the US Capitol. She joined the House of Representatives in January, after defeating two Republicans in a three-way race for her seat and simultaneously ending the political comeback of Sarah Palin, the state’s scandal-plagued reality TV show ex-governor.

She has won admiration quickly among her peers in DC both for her willingness to seek compromise as well as her staunchly pro-environment stances, which she proudly champions under the banner of being “pro-fish”.

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