An RCMP dive team has recovered the bodies of three people who were killed when their float plane crashed into a bay on B.C.’s Central Coast north of Port Hardy.
The pilot and two passengers were missing and presumed dead after the Cessna A815E they were in went down in Strachan Bay, about 49 kilometres northwest of Port Hardy, on Thursday, Nov. 24.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane crash shortly after-take off. First responders were on scene minutes after the crash was reported, but were unable to rescue anyone from the sunken plane and the dive team was called in.
“Efforts to locate the plane and any potential survivors have been ongoing since the day of the crash,” said BC RCMP spokesman Cpl. Alex Bérubé. “Working through challenging weather conditions, our divers were able to locate the bodies of the pilot and the two passengers on Saturday, November 26.”
There is no criminality suspected in the crash, he said.
The BC Coroners Service has been notified and the Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash.
One of the three victims has been identified as pilot Patrick Lehmann, who was working for Coal Harbour-based charter service Air Cab when the plane crash occurred.
Company president Joel Eilerstein told CHEK News the crash was a “tragic accident” and said Lehmann was a skilled and smart pilot. Lehmann and the two victims all lived in or near Port Hardy, sending shockwaves through the small northern Vancouver Island community.