First Nations council calls for review in wake of Tofino float plane crashes

First Nations council calls for review in wake of Tofino float plane crashes

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is calling for changes to regulations and policies after two float-plane accidents in Tofino Harbour in the last three months.

It says it wants to ensure no one else is harmed.

The council says it understands how important airlines and water taxis are, but the public must understand that relying on the heroics of local First Nations to respond to the crashes isn’t sustainable.

Council president Judith Sayers says the group wants Transport Canada to review laws and regulations governing the harbour.

Sayers noted she was involved in one of the float plane crashes in July, when an aircraft reportedly hit a sandbar and flipped onto its roof.

“We call on Transport Canada as a priority, to review the laws,  regulations and policies that regulate Tofino Harbour and make changes to ensure a safer harbour. We cannot wait for the Transportation Safety Board to make recommendations,” Sayers said in a statement.

“I was in the first floatplane accident and if it was not for the quick actions of my  son Cole Sayers, I could have drowned. I cannot thank him enough. Now the lives of two of our NTC employees were endangered in this second accident. We need changes now so no more  lives are at risk.”

In Monday’s crash, Ahousaht man Ken Brown was operating his water taxi when he saw a landing float plane collide with a water taxi, then begin to sink.

“The plane was coming in from right behind us here and Rocky Pass was coming in at an angle here. Yeah, he impacted Rocky Pass, he didn’t see him,” said Brown.

So Brown untied his ropes and raced to the fast-sinking plane, rescuing four passengers from the water, including a young boy, just in time.

“The plane was going down quickly and this boy was super terrified and I said ‘you can reach me, give me your hand,’” he said. “I said ‘you’re going to be OK’ so he reaches out and I grab him, and I help the father aboard and the ladies.”

The rescue came nearly six years to the day after the Leviathan II tragedy, when once again Brown saved 11 people from a whale-watching boat that was sinking.

The Transportation Safety Board and RCMP are continuing to investigate Monday’s crash.


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