Four survive plane crash near Big Creek

All four people on board a Cessna 210 survived a crash on Sunday in the Big Creek Provincial Park region.

All four people on board a Cessna 210 survived a crash on Sunday in the Big Creek Provincial Park region, about 130 kilometres south-west of WIlliams Lake.

The aircraft had departed from the Springhouse airstrip shortly before 8:30 a.m. and was due to return in the early afternoon for refuelling.

The Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed Monday the three passengers were contractors conducting a moose counting exercise, something the ministry does at least once a year.

While the Transportation Safety Board will be conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash, the Williams Lake RCMP issued an update Monday afternoon saying the plane crashed near Mt. Tom in the park.

“The cause of the crash appears to be from a downdraft. The plane was travelling at 500 feet and having no time to correct,” the RCMP said.

When the plane’s flight track system failed to give a routine radio check-in to the Cariboo Fire Centre at approximately 9:30 a.m., the fire centre dispatched local aircraft, including a civilian helicopter.

“At the same time Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria dispatched a CC15 Buffalo — a fixed wing search and rescue airplane — from 19 Wing Comox. That aircraft was from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron,” said Trevor Reid, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Canadian Forces Comox.

It flew to the area of Big Creek Provincial Park and arrived overhead at approximately 1 p.m.

Crews were able to home in on the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.

“As they were flying around, they decided to drop their two search and rescue technicians by parachute to the area,” Reid said, adding when the SAR technicians got on the ground, they linked up with the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Resource Operations helicopter that was already in the area.

The SAR technicians travelled with the helicopter to the plane crash survivors and discovered the survivors had set up a small camp away from the aircraft.

“They were able to ensure that three of the people were able to get on board the helicopter and provide medical help and stabilization to the fourth, more seriously injured person,” Reid said.

Shortly thereafter a Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopter, also from 442 Squadron, was able to land.

“Keep in mind the winds at the area were over 40 kilometres an hour at the time. Not only did it make for a challenging parachute for the SAR techs, but it also meant it was a difficult landing for the Cormorant as well. They were able to get the fourth patient stabilized, get him onto the Comorant helicopter, and he, too, was transferred to Williams Lake hospital,” Reid explained.

In conversation with the Tribune, Reid said there were many keys to the survival of the plane crash.

Likening the flight tracker system to that of a cookie crumb- or bread crumb-style tracker, similar to the techniques used by Hansel and Gretel, Reid said the tracker

gives points along the route it’s been. When they stop getting those crumbs, then essentially they know there may be something amiss.

“As one of our aircraft captains said, between the ELT, the flight tracking system, and the fact that these guys had a schedule of the flight path pre-arranged, they were able to get on top of them and provide medical care and evacuation.

The RCMP said three of the four taken to hospital had minor injuries, while the fourth person sustained back injuries.