Residents look on as an RCMP vehicle blocks a road near the the scene of a small plane crash on Gabriola Island, B.C., Wednesday, Dec.11, 2019. The BC Coroners Service and police have confirmed multiple fatalities in a plane crash off the east coast of Vancouver Island.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Three investigators from the Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive early this afternoon at the scene of a plane crash which officials say took several lives off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash

The BC Coroners Service and the RCMP confirm there were multiple fatalities when the small plane went down around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday on the northwest corner of Gabriola Island.

Few details were immediately available about the size or type of the plane or the number of passengers.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson said in a statement that the department was in the preliminary stages of finding out who died and under what circumstances.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau says the area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood.

He says there is no indication that people were forced from their homes because of the crash.

“Nobody that was on the ground that we’re aware of was injured,” he said Wednesday.

Gabriola Island is about a 15-kilometre ferry ride east of Nanaimo. Manseau said he understands that BC Ferries was contacted soon after the crash and a scheduled supper-hour trip to the island was held back to allow more emergency service personnel to board and get to the crash site.

“In very short order we had a full crew of paramedics and firefighters from Nanaimo who actually headed to Gabriola Island.”

The site was cordoned off prior to Transport Safety Board investigators moving in.

“I would assume an airplane crash is going to have a pretty significant area for a debris field,” Manseau said.

Bette Lou Hagen, who lives in the area, said she was reading a novel when she heard “like a loud sonic boom or something.”

“I heard a loud engine — it didn’t sound like a car engine — but it was really shaking my house and then I heard a loud crash. Then — I don’t how much later it was — I heard an explosion,” she said.

She went outside but could not see much because the area has a lot of trees, and then called the police.

The plane crashed about 50 metres from her backyard, she said.

“It was pretty awful. I’m still shaking.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letter: Allen Way rail crossing proposed in 1980

Pitt Meadows mayor at time wanted it at north Bonson.

Maple Ridge school hosts FIRST LEGO competition

Students build and program LEGO MINDSTORMS to find solutions to city landscape designs

Votto, Morneau want Hall of Fame recognition for Larry Walker

Larry Walker’s number will be retired on April 19 at Coors Field

Slideshow: Maple Ridge’s winter wonderland waterways

PHOTOS: Water and wildlife at the Alouette River, Fraser River and Whonnock Lake

Lottery charges against two Maple Ridge women dropped

New information leads Crown to stay proceedings

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Dad of missing Abbotsford woman charged after allegedly exposing himself in park

Barry Shpeley charged with sexual assault and assault

Most Read