Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have concluded that an Alaskan pilot and his wife, who suffered from terminal cancer, intentionally crashed their small airplane into the side of a snowy mountain last December as an “act of suicide,” a final report declared.
62-year-old Mark Matter and his wife, 63-year-old Cecilia Matter, died when their Piper PA-11 propeller plane went down near Aniak, a small settlement in the western part of the state. They took off from Aniak on December 15 and crashed at 2,000 feet elevation near the family’s mine at Marvel Creek, Alaska Dispatch News reported.
The final report, which was released last month, noted that search crews were dispatched when the Matters failed to return from a flight.
“Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation,” the report noted. “Following a death investigation, the State Medical Examiner classified the manner of death as a suicide.”
The cause of death for the pilot was listed as “multiple blunt force injuries” and a toxicology test performed on his remains came back negative for alcohol, drugs, and carbon monoxide, all of which may have impaired his judgement.
Friends of the Matter family recalled Mark and Cecilia as a truly inseparable couple who had been married for 41 years and were hardly ever found apart.
“They were inseparable from the beginning,” Donna Slaugh, one of their daughters, told KYUK. She said that her parents were headed to the family’s small gold mine, a route that her father was intimately familiar with.
Mark moved to Aniak at age 19 from Pennsylvania to accomplish his dream of buying a plane. There, he met Cecilia, and the two were married within a year. They raised a family in Aniak and worked together to start a prospecting business, which grew incredibly successful.
The Matters’ children claimed that their mother likely did not have long to live before the crash, and that her illness broke their father’s heart.