This story has been updated.
A Haines man was one of five people killed in a midair plane crash in Southwest Alaska Wednesday morning. Forty-year-old Jeff Burruss was a hunting guide for a Bethel-based company and was en route to a hunting camp when his plane collided with another aircraft. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Burruss’ stepbrother, Haines resident Kyle Grimes, says his brother was ‘living his dreams’ working as a hunting and fishing guide for Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures in Bethel.
“He really loves the wild,” Grimes said. “He loves the outdoors, he loves being a part of where he’s at, and I think it always kind of helped him find himself.”
Grimes says Burruss lived in in the Chilkat Valley for about eight years, but when he got the job at Renfro’s about five years back, he started splitting his time between Bethel and Haines.
On Wednesday, Burruss was on his way to a hunting camp when the Super Cub plane operated by his employer collided midair with a Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 Caravan. The Super Cub was carrying Burruss and pilot Zach Babat of Montana. The Cessna held three people – Wasilla pilot Harry Wrase and passengers Steve Andrew of Kenai and Aaron Minock of Russian Mission.
The crash happened about six miles north of Russian Mission. Burruss’ plane was headed from Bethel to the hunting camp. The other aircraft was flying from Russian Mission to Marshall. When rescue workers arrived on the scene of the crash late Wednesday, they found there were no survivors.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
Grimes says flying on bush planes was a routine part of his brother’s job. He says he wants people to know Burruss died doing what he loved.
“I just want people to know that he was happy in his life and he lived his life to fullest.”
He said ever since they were kids, Burruss loved the outdoors and hunting.
“He was kind of loner and he just really excelled at being able to navigate woods. And he found a lot of pride in being able to be a good, clean hunter and being able to track game. He’s always been a woodsy kind of guy.”
Grimes says Burruss was a ‘great guy’ and good friend who will be missed by many.
“People that knew him, he would go to the end of the world for.”
Grimes says Burruss also loved his dog, Bacardi.
“His dog was pretty much his life.”
Bacardi is in Bethel, and Grimes says he’s trying to coordinate bringing the dog to Haines.
Burruss leaves behind friends and family in Haines and Washington, where he’s from originally. Grimes says arrangements have not yet been made for a local service.