Search and rescue crews from 442 Squadron in Comox have discovered the wreckage of a float plane missing off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
The plane was discovered shortly before 4 p.m. by a Cormorant helicopter crew, according to a spokesperson from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. The aircraft, rumoured to be a DeHavilland Beaver from Air Nootka, based in Gold River, went missing after 10 a.m. PST today (Friday, Aug. 16, 2013). At 10:55 a.m. PST the JRCC notified Tofino RCMP that a distress call had been received from a fixed wing aircraft approximately three minutes after the aircraft took off from Hesquiaht Lake, near Hot Springs Cove.
The float plane is believed to have had one pilot and five passengers on board, with an intended destination of Gold River. Island District RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan said the float plane was discovered about three nautical miles (5.5 kilometres) from Hesquiaht Lake.
Neither the JRCC nor RCMP could confirm status of the passengers, however, CBC is reporting via BC Ambulance that at least two survivors have been airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital and Victoria General Hospital. One patient is reported to be in critical condition.
Lagan said the weather at the time was “your typical West Coast storming weather…low cloud ceiling, some wind, rain.” He said the Transportation Safety Board will determine if weather played a role in the crash, but added that the weather definitely hampered search efforts.
The RCMP were unable to launch their aircraft, although 442 Squadron at 19 Wing Comox launched a Cormorant. The Canadian Coast Guard was involved and RCMP West Coast Marine Section responded with a vessel in the area, Lagan added.