‘We’re all in shock:’ Neighbours mourn family of five killed in plane crash

'We're all in shock:' Neighbours mourn family of five killed in plane crash
Members of the Dotsenko family, father Victor Dotsenko, his wife Rimma Dotsenko and their three children, 12-year-old David, 10-year-old Adam and seven-year-old Emma are shown in a handout photo. The family was killed Monday after a single-engine plane crashed alongside a highway near downtown Nashville.

A small but growing memorial, made up of bouquets and teddy bears, formed outside a home north of Toronto on Thursday as a community grieved a family of five killed in a small plane crash in Nashville.

Victor Dotsenko, 43, his 39-year-old wife Rimma Dotsenko and their three children, 12-year-old David, 10-year-old Adam and seven-year-old Emma, were killed Monday as a single-engine plane crashed alongside a highway near downtown Nashville.

The family, who were the only people aboard the plane, lived in King Township, located about 50 kilometres north of Toronto.

Two of their neighbours, Anne and Leo Amore, said the news has left them and others in their community “heartbroken.”

“Just devastated … we’re all in shock,” Leo Amore said as the pair were on their way to buy flowers to leave outside the family’s home.

Amore said he and Victor Dotsenko would often talk in the driveway. “He was always working on his cars. He just loved his cars and his boats,” he said.

The Dotsenkos were “a wonderful family,” he said, adding their deaths leave a real “emptiness.”

“It’s a real tragedy,” he said.

Anne Amore said the three children were joyful and “full of life,” and the family was “lovely.”

“They were always very, very pleasant, always kind and respectful,” she said.

The family’s deaths have also left students and staff at the children’s school “completely distraught,” a school administrator said, calling the family “an integral part” of the community.

Alina Pinsky, co-director of the UMCA Rich Tree Academy, a private school north of Toronto, said the family was part of the school community for many years.

David, Adam and Emma were “the sweetest kids you’ll ever meet,” she said in a phone interview.

“These were the most bright, energy-filled kids – everyone in the school loved them, they had so many friends,” Pinsky said. “This was a very, very loved trio in our school.”

David was a kind-hearted jokester, a smart, bright kid with a “wholesome” personality, she said.

Adam was an avid chess player and the school had recently talked about setting up a tournament so he could show the community what he’d been working on, she said.

Emma was a “sweet, kind young girl, always such a good friend” to her classmates, she said.

Their parents were very involved in the school community and had recently attended some performances, Pinsky said.

“We are so sad as a community and as a school,” she said. “The sadness and the grief that the school is feeling today weighs very heavily on our hearts.”

Rabbi Chaim Hildeshaim of the Chabad Russian Centre of Thornhill Woods has known the family for more than a decade, officiating the couple’s wedding in 2009 and performing the naming ceremonies for each of their children.

“They had a beautiful relationship between the two of them. I witnessed that on many different occasions,” he said in a phone interview.

“They were very, very devoted parents. And they did everything to educate the children, to give them the best education … and to give them a good time at the same time.”

Victor Dotsenko was the kind of person who always offered to lend a hand, he said. When the synagogue underwent renovations, Dotsenko — who was working as a window installer at the time — came with his crew and put in the windows for free, the rabbi said.

“He was a very, very, very giving person,” he said. The whole family was “good-hearted” and active in the community, he added.

Hildeshaim said he learned of their deaths through a mutual friend. “It was very difficult. And still I can’t really, you know, wrap my head around it,” he said.

He urged people in the community to do good deeds to honour the family’s memory.

King City’s mayor called the deaths a “heartbreaking and devastating loss” for the “tight-knit community.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce, whose riding includes King City, said he spoke to the mayor Thursday morning to express his condolences.

“I do not know the family personally but whenever these types of tragedies take place, they’re so shocking,” he said. “They have impacts in schools and well beyond, so we’re thinking about the family and we’re praying for them.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it a “huge and shocking loss for everyone who knew the Dotsenko family.”

Victor Dotsenko was a member of the Brampton Flying Club, said the club’s general manager, Allan Paige. He did his training at the club and obtained his private pilot licence in November 2022, and continued to fly with the club until he bought his plane in the middle of last year, Paige said.

Dotsenko, who was flying the plane, had radioed air traffic controllers to report that his engine had shut down, he had overflown John C. Tune airport and had circled around in an attempt to land.

Investigator Aaron McCarter of the National Transportation Safety Board said the flight originated in Ontario and made stops along the way that were likely to gas up, including Erie, Pa., and Mount Sterling, Ky.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has sent a representative to assist in the crash investigation being led by U.S. authorities.

By Maan Alhmidi and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!