This story was updated at 6:02 p.m. ET.
Former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe and his son are among the survivors of the fatal plane crash in southwestern Alaska late Monday that killed five people, one of them ex-senator Ted Stevens, officials with the defense contractor EADS North America have confirmed.
The plane was carrying nine people when it crashed Monday night near the town of Dillingham, Alaska, National Transportation Safety Board officials said. O'Keefe, who serves as CEO for EADS North America, was one of the passengers along with his son Kevin and Stevens.
?It was with a great sense of relief and gratitude that we learned that Sean, and his son, Kevin, survived the aircraft crash in Alaska. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those less fortunate in this terrible accident," said EADS North America chairman Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., in a statement. ?We owe a debt of gratitude for the heroic efforts of the members of the rescue crew and others who rushed to the scene. We look forward to Sean?s full recovery and his rapid return to EADS North America.?
Earlier, the NASA watchdog website NASAWatch confirmed that O'Keefe's son was also on the plane and that both survived. According to NBC News, which cited a source close to the O'Keefe family, the former NASA chief suffered a broken pelvis and several other broken bones in the crash.
Reports of the O'Keefes' survival were received with relief by officials at the Louisiana State University ? where O'Keefe served as chancellor after leaving NASA ? among others.
"The LSU community is happy and relieved to learn that former Chancellor Sean O?Keefe and his son Kevin were found alive following their plane crash in Alaska," said current LSU chancellor Michael Martin in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to everyone affected by this tragic event, and we send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those lost in the crash."
Earlier today, a statement released by a Stevens family spokesperson said the 86-year-old former senator for Alaska had died in the crash, CNN reported.
A National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team to investigate the crash and issued an announcement on the crash.
"At about 8:00 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time, a DeHavilland DHC-3T (N455A) crashed 10 miles northwest of Aleknagik, Alaska," NTSB officials said. "Reports are that 5 of the 9 persons on board died in the accident."
Rescue efforts were hampered by severe weather in the region near the plane crash, according to press reports.
Former NASA chief
O'Keefe served as NASA Administrator ? the agency's top job ? between 2001 and 2005. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and served as the 10th chief of the space agency.
"We at NASA are deeply saddened by today's news that former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and others were killed in a plane crash in Alaska that also injured former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and his son, Kevin," Bolden said Monday. "As a long-time supporter of NASA, Sen. Stevens made lasting contributions to our agency and our country. We at NASA mourn his loss and send our deepest condolences to his family, as well as the families and friends of all who perished in the accident."
Bolden said NASA as whole sends its wishes to O'Keefe, his son and the rest of their family.
Stevens served as a senator for Alaska until 2008, when he lost his re-election bid and was convicted on corruption charges, though the case was later thrown out, according to MSNBC. At the time he was the longest-serving Republican senator.
Condolences poured in for Stevens in honor of his long record with the Senate.
?A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Senator Stevens in this terrible accident.?
O'Keefe had a long friendship with Stevens that predated his tenure as NASA chief, and the two were longtime fishing buddies, according to the Associated Press and CNN.
NASA head office tenure
During his tenure at NASA, O'Keefe led the space agency through both triumph and tragedy. In February 2003, NASA's space shuttle Columbia was destroyed during its reentry to Earth. O'Keefe oversaw efforts to cope with the trauma and get the space agency back on track.
In January 2004, O'Keefe made the controversial decision to cancel a planned space shuttle mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope (that decision was later reversed by his successor, Michael Griffin, and the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission did fly in May 2009).
Under O'Keefe's leadership, NASA also successfully landed the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity on the Red planet in January 2004. Those spacecraft went on to become the longest running missions on Mars.
In honor of his service to NASA, an asteroid discovered in 2003 was named after O'Keefe ? the space rock 78905 Seanokeefe (2003 SK85).
After resigning from NASA in 2005, O'Keefe served as chancellor of Louisiana State University.
Prior to heading up NASA, O'Keefe served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he oversaw planning and management of the federal budget during the administration of President Bush.
Before that, O'Keefe was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse, N.Y. He also directed the National Security Studies program, a joint department of Syracuse and Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier in his career, the first president Bush appointed O'Keefe as Secretary of the Navy in 1992. In 1993, President Bush and then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney presented him with the Distinguished Public Service Award.