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FROM KING COVE TO ETERNITY
The Kathy Hoff Story


 Kathy Hoff was the only licensed nurse in the tiny village of King Cove, Alaska. So in 1980 when a fireman was seriously injured and required medical treatment that the primitive village facilities could not provide, she believed it was her duty to accompany him on a perilous plane flight to Anchorage. Tragically, however, the MEDIVAC plane crashed soon after taking off from King Cove's crude airstrip in bad weather, killing Kathy, the fireman and two others on board.

Kathy's story is not unique. Since 1981, eleven people have been killed attempting to fly out of King Cove in the poor weather conditions that constantly plague the isolated community. Many of these deaths would not have occurred if the village had a road connecting it to the town of Cold Bay, which has a safe all-weather airport. But the U.S. Department of the Interior is refusing the residents' desperate pleas for a road because the road would pass through seven miles of a federal wildlife refuge.

The Interior Department and at least 20 national environmental organizations claim that the road would seriously damage critical wildlife habitat even though the proposed single-lane gravel road would only skirt through a tiny portion of the refuge and residents have promised to limit road use during the peak season of bird migrations. They've also offered to donate 650 acres of wetlands to compensate for the land that would be used for construction.

Residents are especially incensed with environmentalists' arguments that there are other effective means of medical evacuation such as a ferry service across the bay to Cold Bay. The same high winds that make flying out of King Cove so hazardous routinely whip up 15-foot swells making the two-to-four hour ferry crossing just as treacherous.

Alaska's congressional delegation has introduced legislation to allow the road construction to proceed, but the Clinton Administration has vowed to veto the bill.

All Marvin Hoff can say is, "If we had such a road, my wife Kathy would be alive today."
Source: Bob Juttner

 

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