ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Antonakos family of Greenville, S.C., usually stuck close to home for summer vacations, but this year they decided to explore Alaska.
"They were very excited," the father of Kimberly Antonakos, H. Wayne Clayton, said Monday. "They never had been there before and wanted to see what it was like."
Kimberly Antonakos, her husband Melet Antonakos and their three children were among those killed in a fiery Alaska plane crash that left all 10 on board dead.
The Antonakos family of Greenville, S.C., usually went to Myrtle Beach, S.C., each summer, but Clayton said Monday his daughter and her family decided to travel to Alaska for 10 days this year instead.
Clayton said his son-in-law sold computer software to hospitals and doctors' offices, while Kimberly shuffled the three children to their many activities. The children were 16-year-old Olivia, 14-year-old Mills and 11-year-old Anastacia.
"It's rough, to lose five (family) members at one time," Clayton said.
Investigators have begun their probe of the de Havilland DHC3 Otter that crashed and burned Sunday at the airport in Soldotna, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The plane had just taken off and apparently was en route to a fishing lodge, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson.
South Carolina House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister said four of the other victims were also a family from Greenville, S.C. - Chris McManus and Stacey McManus and their two children.
Bannister said the Antonakos family lived on his street in Greenville. Olivia was going to be in 11th grade, Mills was going to be in ninth grade and Anna was going to be in sixth grade next year, he said.
"They were great kids — just a fantastic family," Bannister said.
The victims also included the plane's pilot.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Otter was operated by Rediske Air, based in Nikiski, another Kenai Peninsula community. The pilot of the downed plane was Nikiski-based Walter "Willie" Rediske, company spokesman Andy Harcombe said.
The remains of the victims were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Anchorage for autopsies and positive identifications.
The majority of Alaska communities aren't connected to the road system, with small planes providing a vital link to the outside world. They bring in food, medicine, mail and other supplies, and provide for air travel — with scheduled and on-demand flights. Air taxis, which provide nonscheduled commercial flights, provide access to wilderness areas and link small, remote villages, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.