Investigators have been deployed to Tofino to gather information on a collision between a float plane and water taxi on Oct. 18, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
The crash occurred between a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver float plane and the water taxi Rocky Pass as the plane was landing in Tofino Harbour.
Ken Brown was operating his water taxi when he saw the landing float plane collide with the 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,” Brown told CHEK News.
The Ahousaht man then untied his ropes and raced to the fast-sinking plane, rescuing four passengers from the water, including a young boy.
“The plane was going down quickly and this boy was super terrified and I said ‘you can reach me, give me your hand.’ 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,” said Brown.
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 crash prompted calls for change to regulations and policies from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which noted there have been two float plane accidents in Tofino Harbour in the last three months.
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.