There are no survivors after a plane crashed on Gabriola Island.
The crash happened Tuesday near Ricardo Road on the northwestern corner of the island. B.C. Emergency Health Services were called out just after 6 p.m. RCMP on scene said more than one person died in the crash and no one survived.
“Through investigation it was learned that a small plane had crashed on the northwest corner of the island. RCMP members travelled to the scene and are confirming multiple fatalities from this crash,” noted the B.C. Coroners Service in a statement. “Because of the nature of plane crashes, this event will be investigated in partnership with the Transportation Safety Board, who have been notified and will be attending the scene on Dec. 11.”
Resident Ken DeCarle was first on scene and said he knew it was a light aircraft in distress.
“The pilot fought it all the way down to the ground … I heard the aircraft in distress, I heard it hit and I was first in to the wreckage,” he said, adding that he did not wish to comment further.
Another witness, Randi Lynch, said she saw the plane going in circles and tumbling.
“And then the sky was just crazy…” she said. “A big explosion and then the whole sky here was lit up.”
All emergency services responded, with the Coast Guard and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre offering assistance. A hovercraft and its personnel were scanning the shore along DeCourcy Drive.
Merv Unger, spokesman for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Nanaimo Station 27, said in an e-mail that three vessels were standing by in case they were required. He said there were “apparently three persons on [the] plane,” which he said was reported as a Piper 60.
Daniel Pearce, director of emergency services with the Regional District of Nanaimo, said the RDN’s emergency coordinator would be meeting with the emergency social support coordinator on Gabriola Island “and from there providing incident support to the fire service as well as to the residents if anybody needs anything.”
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released a statement Wednesday morning, saying it is “deploying a team of investigators to the site of an accident involving a piston twin-engine aircraft on Gabriola Island … The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.”
According to a social media posts, the plane did not strike any houses, but may have crashed in a nearby wooded area.
Reg Megyesi posted on Facebook “a plane has just crashed behind my mother-in-law’s house. She called us concerned for her own safety. We rushed over and now there are emergency vehicles everywhere.”
Witness Paolo Gast posted he saw a plane do a low maneuver, then go straight up, then drop and “light show into ocean … sunset side of twin beach.”
Gabriola Island is located about five kilometres east of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
With files from Canadian Press