Weather Will Determine When Investigators Can Access Plane Crash Site

Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told CNN that her team will search for "avionics or other devices that may have memory" to help determine why the ruby-red 1957 DeHavilland floatplane collided with a remote mountainside on Monday afternoon. Two of the four people who survived the crash, including former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, were reported hospitalized in critical condition. Hersman said investigators must be flown to the site and will not be able to get there while visibility and conditions remain poor. "We're going to have to see what the weather looks like," she said in a televised interview at 5 a.m. in Alaska (9 a.m. in Washington). "we have a lot of work ahead of us." Investigators do not expect to find a black box or flight data recorder on such a small aircraft, but should find some clues among the remains of the plane, Hersman told the cable news station. "The wreckage is going to help to tell the tale of what happened." Key information could come from talking to survivors, who in addition to O'Keefe include his son, Kevin; Jim Morhard, an Alexandria lobbyist who had worked for Stevens on Capitol Hill; and 13-year-old William "Willy" Phillips Jr., whose father, Washington lobbyist William "Bill" Phillips, was killed in the crash. "We'll talk to them when they're ready to speak with us," Hersman said. The floatplane came down in the rain and mist late Monday, unnoticed by radar and unreachable by official rescue teams until morning. It would take nearly a day before authorities publicly confirmed the identity of one of the victims: Stevens, a political legend who spent most of his life nurturing the state he helped to found a half century ago. The force of the collision tore a 300-foot gash in the side of the mountain about 17 miles from the town of Dillingham, crushing the nose of the plane but leaving the passengers -- both alive and dead -- inside the fuselage, according to an NTSB official. With temperatu