Quick work saves four after crash

Four victims escaped a plane crash near Bella Bella July 11, while the plane was burned beyond recovery above the high tide level. - Photo submitted
Four victims escaped a plane crash near Bella Bella July 11, while the plane was burned beyond recovery above the high tide level.
— image credit: Photo submitted

The stars lined up to promptly assist four float plane crash victims near Bella Bella last Friday afternoon, said Cpl. Dave Tyreman of the RCMP North District.

When a mayday relay went out that a de Haviland Beaver had crashed in an isolated area north of St. John Harbour near the south entrance of the Seaforth Channel at 3:50 p.m., the RCMP patrol vessel Lindsay happened to be at the community of Shearwater near Bella Bella.

Realizing it would take Lindsay  more than one hour to reach the crash site, Sgt. Rob Pikola instructed constables Steven Roe and Dale Judd to deploy a 733 Ridged Hull inflatable fast response vessel.

“They arrived on scene within 30 minutes, followed by the Lindsay, which arrived in just under an hour,” Tyreman said.

Another plus was the fact one of Central Coast Adventures’ fishing charter boats was nearby with six doctors on board from Williams Lake and Vanderhoof who came to the aid of the victims.

“All of the victims received medical treatment within 30 minutes of the crash,” Pikola said.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s Cape Farewell and two fast response vessels, along with Search and Rescue’s helicopter and Buffalo aircraft also attended.

Members of the Lindsay transported two of the four people from the crash, while the more seriously injured passengers were transported aboard the Cape Farewell to the Bella Bella hospital.

Bill Yearwood of the Transportation Safety Board said the privately registered aircraft had just departed from St. John Harbour en route to Sandspit, Haida Gwaii, when it encountered low fog and collided with the terrain on the beach.

“A post crash fire ensued and one of the passengers who received minor to no injuries helped extricate the remaining persons on board,” Yearwood said.

“Two of the persons received serious burns and one was transferred to the Vancouver burn unit.”


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