photos and story by Ingrid Baetzel, Mainstreet Editor
On the evening of August 30, 2014, a small Cessna plane crashed off the Kokanee Springs 6th fairway, across from the Crawford Bay landing strip. Local residents and visitors from the campground arrived on the scene minutes after the buzzing sound followed by two loud thumping booms echoed through the valley.
Arriving on the scene, witnesses describe a small plane on its back, with the cockpit severely damaged and on fire. Three local men, Juergen Baetzel, Paul Hindson and Tobias Macdonald were instrumental in removing the pilot and passenger from the wreckage at great risk to their own personal safety. Carol VanR, along with a couple people from the Kokanee Chalets campground across the road and other local residents, also raced to the plane and selflessly fought to control the fire and assist in any way. A woman (the passenger) and a man (the pilot) were removed from the plane only minutes before successive explosions hurried the flames and decimated the cockpit.
The woman was later confirmed as deceased (likely upon impact) and the man was taken by helicopter for hospital treatment. His condition and the pairs’ identities are currently not released.
Bill Yearwood, with the Transport Safety Board’s Pacific region, told the Edmonton Journal the pilot involved Saturday’s plane accident in Crawford Bay decided to execute a rejected landing and attempted to take off again.
“Something was not right on the landing and the pilot elected to abort the landing. During that takeoff from the aborted landing, the aircraft contacted trees and tragically crashed,” Yearwood said.
“(The pilot) had serious injuries, but we believe he will survive,” Yearwood added.