Account Login/Registration

Access KelownaNow using your Facebook account, or by entering your information below.


Facebook


OR


Register

Privacy Policy

UPDATE: Multiple deaths after small plane crashes on Gabriola Island

(UPDATE: Dec. 11 @ 11:50 am): A plane that one witness describes as crashing in a “huge explosion” that left multiple people dead in British Columbia has been identified as a twin-engine propeller aircraft.

The BC Coroners Service and the RCMP confirm there were multiple fatalities when the small plane went down around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday on the northwest corner of Gabriola Island, near Nanaimo.

The Transportation Safety Board says it is investigating the crash of a piston twin-engine aircraft.

Dave Holme said he saw the plane hurtle toward the ground and ran to look for survivors.

“I saw the plane spiralling toward the ground. The engines were going … but they didn’t sound normal,” Holme recalled Wednesday.

<who> Photo credit: Canadian Press

“About five houses down from us, I saw it nose-dive into the ground, and then the explosion was just immense … all the houses completely shook.”

Holme said he ran into the bushes at the crash site and yelled to see if anyone was alive and able to respond.

“I was probably within, I’d have to say, five feet of the fuselage … and just fire — all around me, the ground was literally on fire.

“I saw the rear end of the plane sticking out of the ground. … I couldn’t see any wings. Part of the motor was on one part of the property and the other part of the motor was over on the other side of the property. It hit with such force, it just disintegrated the plane.”

Three investigators from the Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive at the crash site today.

No other details have been released about the plane or the number of passengers who were on board.

The plane crashed in thick brush and scorch marks were visible on trees in the area of the crash, which is near a beach.

Coroners service spokesman Andy Watson said in a statement that the department was in the preliminary stages of finding out who died and under what circumstances.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau said the area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood but police were not aware of any injuries on the ground.

Gabriola Island, which has a population of about 4,000, is a 20-minute ferry ride east of Nanaimo.

Manseau said he understands that BC Ferries was contacted soon after the crash and a scheduled supper-hour trip to the island was held back to allow more emergency service personnel to board and get to the crash site.

The site was cordoned off in advance of Transport Safety Board investigators arriving.

“I would assume an airplane crash is going to have a pretty significant area for a debris field,” Manseau said.

Bette Lou Hagen, another area resident, said she was reading a novel when she heard “like a loud sonic boom or something.”

“I heard a loud engine, it didn’t sound like a car engine, but it was really shaking my house and then I heard a loud crash. Then, I don’t how much later it was, I heard an explosion,” she said Tuesday night.

She went outside but could not see much because of the trees before calling the police.

The plane crashed about 50 metres from her backyard, she said.

(Original story: Dec. 11 @ 5:08 am): The BC Coroners Service and police have confirmed multiple fatalities in a plane crash off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson said a small plane crashed on the northwest corner of Gabriola Island around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The BC Coroners Service has also been notified of multiple fatalities and is in the preliminary stages of its fact-finding investigation to determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means the deceased came to their sudden, unexpected deaths,” he said in a statement.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau said the crash will be investigated by multiple agencies including the Transportation Safety Board.

Sophie Wistaff of the Transportation Safety Board said three investigators will be on site Wednesday morning to begin gathering information to determine what happened.

Few details were immediately available about the size or type of the plane or the number of passengers.

RCMP and BC Coroners Service said they would not be releasing any further information on the crash Tuesday night.

Bette Lou Hagen, who lives in the area, said she was reading a novel when she heard “like a loud sonic boom or something.”

“I heard a loud engine — it didn’t sound like a car engine — but it was really shaking my house and then I heard a loud crash and then I don’t how much later it was I heard an explosion,” she said.

She went outside but could not see much because the area has a lot of trees, and then called the police.

The plane crashed about 50 metres from her backyard, she said.

“It was pretty awful. I’m still shaking.”

Gabriola Island is about a 15 kilometre ferry ride from Nanaimo, B.C.



We are asking for your support of local journalism. If you like what we do and believe it has value that adds to our community, we would appreciate your consideration. Please click here to learn more about how you can support local journalism.


Visit our Facebook page to comment on this story.

Sign up for local eNews delivered to your inbox by 7 am every day.

Send your comments, news tips, letter to the editor, photos and videos to news@kelownanow.com.

To report a typo, send an email to news@kelownanow.com.





Fri
23℃


Sat
25℃


Sun
24℃


Mon
28℃


Tue
26℃


Wed
22℃

Top Stories

Follow Us

Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on Youtube Listen on Soundcloud Follow Our RSS