2 dead, 4 injured after float plane crash
Aug 16, 2013 / 6:51 pm
A float plan carrying a group of hikers into a remote Vancouver Island park crashed shortly after take-off Friday, leaving two unharmed survivors, two injured and two dead.
The four survivors were taken to hospitals on Vancouver Island, said RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan, but the officer did not know the nature of their injuries.
Bill Yearwood, of the Transportation Safety Board, said one of them was in critical condition.
The Air Nootka plane with five passengers and a pilot left Hesquiaht Lake, about 85 kilometres northwest of Tofino, on Friday morning but an emergency beacon was activated minutes after takeoff.
The plane was en route to Gold River, about 40 kilometres to the northeast.
That triggered a search that involved multiple aircraft, as well as an RCMP vessel, but difficult terrain and poor weather hampered those efforts. The plane's wreckage was later discovered just north of the lake.
Area aboriginals also helped in the search, with members of the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht helping out on on the water, shore and inland.
Yearwood said investigators were preparing to head to the scene.
"We are just trying to organize for deployment to the accident site," he said.
Air Nootka, a commercial float plane operator based in Gold River, declined to comment.
Darren Lagan said it was a difficult search.
"It's a fairly dense forested area," he said.
There was "rain falling, there's some light wind in the area and limited visibility. The waters are described as being rough, not terribly dangerous seas, but certainly higher than you would typically see in the summer months."
Dianne Ignacie, a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation, helped in the search and the volunteers were able to provide weather information to rescue officials that may have helped them locate the plane.
"We sent out search parties in several directions, plus we forwarded some valuable information on where (the pilot) may have made a pilot error because of low ceiling in the fog conditions," she said.
Air Nootka's website indicates the company has three aircraft servicing communities up and down the Vancouver Island coast. The website also notes its charter service to remote hiking trails, including the Hesquiaht Peninsula trail.
The trail threads 50 kilometres along the shoreline and is considered an easy hike done in between four and six days.
Five passengers can charter one of Air Nootka's two Beavers at a cost of $189 each for a return trip.
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