Bodies Found on Iditarod Route Victims of Plane Crash

Three bodies, including that of one child, were found near the Iditarod Trail dog sled race. They are believed to be the victims of a plane crash on Monday that was supposed to drop the passengers off in Takotna so they could volunteer to for the race.

The bodies of Ted Smith, 59, Carolyn Sorvoja, 48, and Rosemarie Sorvoja, 10, were all found near Rainy Pass, according to reports. The two Sorvoja women were going to volunteer for the annual race, though it has not been revealed specifically what they were planning to do.

Smith was an experienced pilot who was well-equipped for the flight, Kalei Brooks, spokeswoman for the Alaska National Guard, told the Associated Press. However, his personal locator and emergency locator never sent off signals that he was in distress or his location.

A massive search was launched on Monday evening when the plane failed to arrive at either location on time. After an 8-hour search, the teams had to be recalled due to loss of light. The search resumed the following morning with an additional 10 aircraft flying over the route in hopes of locating the plane.

It was finally spotted at 10:22 a.m. near Rainy Pass, and the victims' bodies were all transported back to Anchorage, where autopsies will be performed. An investigation has been launched into what may have caused the wreck.

The Iditarod Trail is a familiar area for those living in Alaska. The annual Dog Sled Race brings in hundreds of competitors and thousands of tourists. It's a reminder of how transportation and deliveries were made back in the early days of Alaska's history.

Joe Redington Sr. and Dorothy Page helped found the race in order "to save the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out of existence due to the introduction of snowmobiles… and to preserve the historical Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome," according to Iditarod history.

The first Iditarod Sled Dog Race took place in 1973 and has been an annual tradition ever since.