"Then there was silence:" Inside the Ted Stevens-Sean O'Keefe plane crash


Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe

The Washington Post just posted this gripping story detailing the aftermath of the August plane crash that claimed the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens and very nearly killed former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe. There’s some harrowing details as the survivors take stock of their injuries and lost friends family members, but also some inspiring strength on display.

The job of searching the plane fell to 13-year-old Willy Phillips, who had a battered and broken ankle but was the only one able to move.

“Where’s my dad?” he asked.

“He’s right here with me,” O’Keefe responded, leaving it at that. […]

Willy made the search.

Nothing. No phone, no radio, no medical kit.

Willy, dragging his leg, crawled outside to see whether something might been thrown free of the plane. Other than the overwhelming smell of jet fuel, there was nothing out there but rain and the thickening clouds.

“Is my dad alive?” he asked.

Willy was back in the plane, staring at O’Keefe in the pale light from the porthole.

“No. He’s in a much better place.”

Most kids, O’Keefe thought, would withdraw to a corner after hearing that and not be heard from again. As Willy struggled to hold it together, O’Keefe realized this kid wasn’t one of them. He had his dad’s guts.


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