Q&A: Alaska plane crash update, reverse-PIN rumor

Alaska plane crash update

My husband and I once met the former NASA director who was in the plane crash in Alaska with the former senator and their sons. No one seems to have seen any news about who survived, their condition and who was killed. Rumor has it that the owner of the lodge where they were headed was also on the plane. Can you give us an update?

On Aug. 9, a plane carrying nine passengers crashed in bad weather on the side of a mountain near Anchorage in southwest Alaska.

Killed were former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Ala., 86; pilot Terry Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Ala.; Bill Phillips, 56, a former aide to Stevens and then a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.; Dana Tindall, 48, an executive at the Anchorage-based telecom company General Communications Inc.; and her daughter Corey Tindall, 16. GCI owns the lodge the group was flying to for a vacation.

Surviving are former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, 54; his son Kevin, 19; Phillips' son Willy, 13; and lobbyist James Morhard, 53, of Alexandria, Va.

After hearing the plane had crashed, the president of GCI, Ron Duncan, and his wife, Dr. Dani Bowman, gathered medical equipment and took a helicopter to the crash site, joining two paramedics who had arrived earlier. Rescue crews arrived the following morning.

O'Keefe was seriously injured with several broken ribs and a back injury. He was transferred from an Alaskan hospital to one nearer his Washington, D.C., home in late August. A spokesman said he was expected to recover fully.

O'Keefe is the chief executive officer of the North American division of EADS, which is the world's second largest aerospace and defense company. In mid-September, he was appointed to the Loyola University (New Orleans) board of trustees. He had previously been chancellor at LSU.

Kevin O'Keefe was released from an Alaskan hospital on Aug. 17. Willy Phillips was released from the hospital about a week after the crash. There has been no update on Morhard's condition, and his office did not answer a query.

Reverse PIN is urban legend

I have been told that, should you be forced to take cash out of an ATM, if you enter your PIN backward the money will be issued and the police will be notified. Fact or fiction?

Fiction. Legislation addressing this idea has been proposed in several states. In Illinois, a law on the books supports the idea. Joe Zingher, an Illinois resident, patented a device to handle the alert in the late 1990s. Industry groups have asked whether police would be able to respond in time, and point out that some personal identification numbers are the same forward and backward such as 2002.

The idea has become urban legend, staying alive through forwarded e-mails and chat groups. A 2007 American Banker story says the reverse-PIN rumor has traveled as far as Australia.

Q&A: Alaska plane crash update, reverse-PIN rumor 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 5:30am]

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