'A split-second glimpse'

Alanna Kelly

It was like finding a needle in a haystack, says the paramedic who spotted a missing plane from a helicopter.

The BC Ambulance Service critical care helicopter team refuelled in Golden and, because of low cloud, was flying low through Rogers Pass, about 1,000 feet above the Trans-Canada Highway.

Randy MacLeod and three others were on their way back to Kamloops from Field when a split-second flash caught their attention, Monday, over Glacier National Park.

“We were more daydreaming, looking down and got a split-second glimpse at something between the trees,” he said. “It was something that didn’t belong.”

MacLeod and the pilot, Tim, yelled out at the same time: “What was that? ... Go back! There's something down there!”

The white and burgundy Mooney aircraft had been on the team's mind every time they flew over the region.

Dominic Neron, 28, and Ashley Bourgeault, 31, were last seen taking off in the aircraft from Penticton on Nov. 25 2017. 

“I think part of the reason we spotted this aircraft is because our whole team has been very acutely aware of (it) being missing,” MacLeod said.

“We saw something that didn’t belong.... After several minutes and a couple of passes, we located and right away knew it was an aircraft. We were pretty sure we found the aircraft we were looking for."

Text messages were sent to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre and RCMP to notify them of the location.

“It was a quick flash, clearly one of the best examples of a needle in a haystack, shot in a million, for sure."

MacLeod said the fact the plane was missing in an area they fly over every day wasn’t sitting well with the team since November.

“It was pretty satisfying to have had a role in getting the information,” he said.

MacLeod hopes future missing aircraft information can be shared with the BCAS team, because it is in the air every day.

“I’d love to see a sharing of information when an aircraft goes missing because we pick up the information through media,” he said.

RCMP positively identified the plane as the missing Mooney on Tuesday, which was found about 600 metres from the highway.

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