No mechanical malfunctions were found after a post-crash investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which said in a report released that month that the cause was “the pilot’s intentional flight of the airplane into terrain in an act of suicide.”
Wreckage of the Piper PA-11. Cecilia Matter and Mark Matter died in this December 2016 plane crash that has been ruled a suicide
Friends of the couple, in their early 60s with three adult children, said that Cecilia Matter was sick with cancer before her death, according to Alaska Dispatch News.
The report said that the cause of death was blunt force injuries, and that Mark Matter is not believed to have had any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
The Matters’ children told KYUK that couple, married for 41 years, were “inseparable from the beginning” and that Cecilia’s illness broke their father’s heart.
They said that their mother did not have long to live before the crash, and added that she and their father had been flying a familiar route to visit a small gold mine they owned before their deaths.
Law enforcement officials identified the bodies of mine owner Mark Matter, 62, and his wife Cecilia Matter, 63, from Aniak. Both longtime residents of the small Alaskan village, where the raised three children and operated a mine
Mark Matter and his plane
Mark and Cecilia Matter, married 41 years, were never apart for long. They couldn’t be.
“They were inseparable from the beginning,” said their daughter Donna Slaugh.
The former firefighter who emigrated from Pennsylvania at the age of 19 met his future partner, a heli-tech, in Aniak, just after Mark started his gold mining business.
Marriage and children followed soon after, and Mark Matter’s prospecting started to pay off.
Cecilia Matter took on the job of running the mine and made the business very successful. Mark Matter the children said became almost dependent on her, not just for the business, but for everything.
“Dad couldn’t function without Mom,” Slaugh recalled. “He couldn’t fix himself meals or anything.”
“She kept everybody going,” add Ivan Matter who now runs the mine.
Mark and Cecilia Matter took their children to the mine and showed them what finding gold felt like and what finding love looked like.
While the family and business both grew, at some point Cecilia Matter got very sick, diagnosed with cancer. Ivan Matter said it broke his father’s heart. At the time of crash, Cecilia Matter didn’t have long to live.