There are no survivors from the floatplane that crashed into a heavily wooded area Sunday night near Brenda Mines off the Okanagan Connector.
The de Havilland Beaver owned and piloted by Colin W. O. Moyes of West Vancouver had two passengers aboard a flight to Pitt Meadows from Kelowna when it hit the ground and burst into flames, shortly before 7 p.m.
According to emergency crews that attended the scene, it appeared as though the pilot was trying to land on the highway, but came just short of that goal.
“The distance from the road was 500 to 750 feet,” said Troy Russell, the West Kelowna fire captain who coordinated the fire response last night.
“You could see the direction of flight– and as bystanders have said –it looked like they made an attempt to do a landing on the highway, but efforts were hindered by the topography.”
The fuselage of the plane was intact, however, as the plane came through the trees a wing was knocked off. Other wreckage was scattered in a 200 square feet radius and flames whipped around the area.
As rescue crews assessed what to do with the plane, Russell’s team attempted to snuff out small fires and hotspots.
“To our advantage, it wasn’t an August fire, but we did have forestry on site, they deployed a working team up to the fire as well,” he said. “With their expertise, and the conditions there wasn’t a lot of threat as nightfall came.”
As crews worked to mop up the scene, Russell said family members of those who died in the crash arrived.
“For myself and rest of (the crew,) we really felt for the family members, knowing the nature of what they were dealing with,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a forest fire it’s basically property protection… this was a new dynamic.”
The family were referred to the RCMP, to go through the proper channels moving forward.
Meantime, the Transportation Safety Board has dispatched two investigators to the site, and they’ll be arriving mid morning to assess the wreckage and ascertain the cause of the crash, said board spokesperson Chris Krepski.
That will take some time, Krepski noted, as investigators will have to document and photograph the crash site, investigate flight control and the engine records, and take that information back to a lab for closer analysis.