Witnesses to Gabriola Island fatal plane crash offered counselling, TSB investigation continues 

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WatchInvestigators collected evidence and plane crash debris for a second day on Gabriola Island, as witnesses were offered counselling to help them cope.

Investigators dealt with heavy rainfall Thursday as they combed for clues in a rugged and rain-soaked debris field on Gabriola Island, following Tuesday’s fatal plane crash.

The swath of scattered pieces was left behind when a twin-engine plane lost control and nosedived into a forested lot surrounded by houses.

“It was a huge area that was just in absolute flames,” said witness and Gabriola Island resident David Holme.

“And then the flames also spanned out so there were little pieces of things that were on fire all over the ground.”

READ MORE: TSB say plane that crashed on Gabriola Island was flying from California to Nanaimo

The impact of the crash and subsequent explosions killed all three onboard, including Mill Bay resident and pilot Alex Bahlsen, who was just moments away from landing his aircraft at Nanaimo’s Airport after flying in from Mexico.

The crash all happened in front of residents of Gabriola’s Decourcey neighbourhood.

“Still pretty traumatized,” said witness and Gabriola resident Bette Lou Hagen.

“Still afraid to almost go to sleep. I don’t know. I can’t even describe how I feel it’s just scary.’

Registered trauma counsellor Dr. Nancy Reeves says that fear is a natural response to seeing a plane literally fall from the sky.

“People become what’s called hypervigilant,” said Reeves.

“And they’re just waiting for something else to happen. They’re looking for danger everywhere.”

Counselling is being offered Thursday night on Gabriola Island to those who witnessed the tragic crash and now are struggling with moving forward.

“Well I hope I’m just able to gain trying to put it out of my mind when I’m trying to sleep,” said Hagen.

“And trying not to be afraid that another plane is going to fall.”

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigation will continue on Gabriola Island until investigators have collected all the evidence they can, in an effort to solve what brought the plane crashing to the ground.

Tonight’s counselling starts at 7 p.m. at the Gabriola Fire Hall at 730 Church Street on Gabriola Island.

For those impacted in the Decourcy neighbourhood by the tragic incident on December 10, there will be a group support…

Posted by Regional District of Nanaimo on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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