By Eric Kleefeld August 10, 2010
In December 1978, Ted Stevens and his wife Ann Stevens were on a small chartered plane that crashed while attempting to land. Ted Stevens survived — but his wife Ann, and four other people, were killed. Ted Stevens suffered head, neck and arm injuries, but was conscious when two of his daughters visited him in the hospital.
As The New Republic noted in 2007, Stevens long blamed the accident on his then co-Senator, Democrat Mike Gravel:
Stevens was taking the flight to a meeting about a major public-lands bill. He had worked intensely on the bill, but his rival in Alaska politics, then-Senator (and now fringe Democratic presidential candidate) Mike Gravel was trying to crush it. After returning to Washington, Stevens began murmuring that Gravel’s political gamesmanship was indirectly to blame for the crash. His accusation became more specific in what a former Senate aide who was present calls “one of the most horrifying moments in the modern Senate.” According to the aide (the story was also chronicled by The Washington Post at the time), Stevens hobbled into a Senate committee hearing a couple of months later on crutches and in bandages. With Gravel present, Stevens raised the topic of his reason for flying that fateful day. “I don’t want to get personal about it,” he told the stunned audience, “but I think if that bill had passed, I might have a wife sitting at home when I get home tonight, too.”
Here is an excerpt from that September 1979 article in the Washington Post, via Nexis:
When Stevens came back to Washington, he seemed bitter and in terrible emotional pain. He began to drop hints, in Washington and Alaska, that he felt the only reason he was in that plane in the first place was that he had to piece the effort for a land bill back together, and that the only reason he had to do that was that Mike Gravel killed the bill. Most of his remarks in this vein were tactfully not printed by reporters, who saw them as the musings of a man half-crazy with grief.