Salmon Arm  

Plane crash remains ID'd

The mystery of a plane crash from 30 years ago has been solved thanks to DNA.

Human remains discovered in September 2018 at the site of a historical aircraft crash have been identified by the RCMP with the assistance of the BC Coroners Service, the RCMP said in a release.

Even more amazing is the searchers who found the wreckage were looking for a different missing plane at the time.

Missing aircraft found

On Sept. 18, 2018, Clearwater RCMP were advised that the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre had been conducting an unrelated search for an aircraft, when they happened across a plane crash site near McDougall Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

The distinctively old crash site was amongst extremely rugged and very treacherous terrain, RCMP said.

"The scene, which was not accessible by any roadways or trails, was difficult to reach due to steep inclines and the year round snow pack," said Sgt. Grant Simpson, Clearwater RCMP Detachment Commander.

"The police investigation carried out at the scene confirmed that the aircraft had been reported to the RCMP as missing after departing from the Salmon Arm area. The white Piper Super Cub float plane, with two people on board, departed the Eagle Bay area destined for McDougall Lake on June 20, 1987."

The human remains recovered from the crash site in 2018 have been positively identified through DNA analysis.

"BC RCMP confirm the remains belonged to Ernie Whitehead and Len Dykhuizen, both from the Eagle Bay area at the time of their disappearance," said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, Media Relations Officer for the BC RCMP Southeast District."

"RCMP are pleased that we have now been able to provide their family with answers to some long-standing questions. This discovery ends over three decades of uncertainty."

The BC RCMP wish to recognize the exceptional efforts carried out by the BC RCMP Southeast District Missing Person Coordinator, in conjunction with collaborative efforts between the Clearwater and Salmon Arm Detachment’s alongside each of the partner agencies involved in this historical missing persons investigation.

Those additional partner agencies include, but are not limited to, the BC Conservation Service, Emergency Management BC, BC Parks and Yellowhead Helicopters.

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