SATURNA, British Columbia – A float plane crashed off Canada’s Pacific coast, killing six people, including a Vancouver doctor and her six month-old baby, as well as two American residents. Two people on board survived.
The Dehavilland Beaver aircraft went down during takeoff in Lyall Harbour, off Saturna Island in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands — about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Vancouver.
Only two of the eight on board — the pilot and a female passenger — were rescued within minutes of the crash and both are expected to survive, although one has serious injuries, the other is listed in stable condition. Bill Yearwood of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said investigators are hoping the pilot can tell them what went wrong.
A float plane is an aircraft equipped with pontoons for water landings.
Coast guard spokesman Troy Haddock said divers recovered the bodies of six people who were trapped in the plane which sank in 11 meters (36 feet) of water, moments after going down.
James White heard the crash and rushed to his boat to look for survivors, but while he got into Lyall Harbour within minutes, the plane had already slipped beneath the water.
“There was no sign of anybody else or any other debris from the aircraft so I think it probably sank pretty fast,” White said.
He found a woman and the pilot close together in the water, both conscious and begging for help. White couldn’t pull the two of them into his boat on his own, so he tied them to the side of his vessel for a few minutes until other boats came to help.
Captain Bob Evans at the Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in Victoria said officials searched for seven hours before finding the plane and recovering the victims.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have identified the victims as 41-year-old Vancouver doctor Kerry Margaret Morrissey, her baby Sarah, 55-year-old Catherine White-Holman of Vancouver and 60-year-old Thomas Gordon Glenn of White Rock, British Columbia.
The two American residents were 44-year-old Cindy Shafer and 49-year-old Richard Bruce Haskett of Huntington Beach, California.
Last year there were two fatal float plane crashes off the coast of British Columbia.
In August 2008, five people were killed when a Pacific Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose crashed on Vancouver Island. In November 2008, one man survived a crash that killed seven others on Thormanby Island, located between the British Columbia mainland and northern Vancouver Island.