Some very sad news tonight, as I have just logged on to read of this tragedy. I just saw the Seaspan King the other day in Howe Sound. They tow a log barge and most likely the men that perished were the “loaders”. They usually fly in to join the vessel and operate the cranes that load logs onto the barge, once the tug gets to the load site. Once the loading is done they fly back out, while the tug tows the barge to its destination to unload. Pacific Coastal Airline is well known in these parts and are well traveled throughout the region, dealing with many boats and logging camp crews. I believe this is the worst accident in Seaspan’s history. Very sad indeed. I see that the Seaspan website has not released any press releases on their website about this accident, neither has Pacific Coastal.
Below is a picture I took of the 3,600 hp Seaspan King, entering Howe Sounds, north of Vancouver, just a few days ago. – Martin
Follow up – On the plane, they were seven people; the pilot, and six Seaspan Employees – 5 “loaders” and one mate. The 36 year old pilot and four others died. Two survived, both remain in hospital, one with relatively “light” soft tissue injuries and a crack hip bone his name has been released as Bob Pomponio, and he was one of the loaders. The other survivor`s name and position has not been released, but he reportedly has a broken hip and has been transfered to hospital in Victoria. No other names have been released. This was indeed the worst loss for Seaspan in its long history. You can read further details here from the local paper, and here from the CBC.
VICTORIA — For several desperate hours Sunday, the two survivors of a plane crash in a remote section of Vancouver Island watched as search aircraft flew overhead, the rescue crews unable to spot the wreckage hidden in the mountainous terrain.
The Grumman Goose crashed a little after 7 a.m. Sunday, leaving five dead — including four members of the same tugboat crew. The pilot of the Pacific Coastal Airlines flight had been taking six passengers from Port Hardy for what was to be a short flight to a remote logging camp on the other side of the island.
One survivor, with his cellphone battery low and reception weak, was able to call and text-message a friend, trying to guide his rescuers. His descriptions were frightening — the plane had been consumed by fire — but with the emergency beacon destroyed, search crews were hampered by the thick forest that seemed to swallow the aircraft.
It would be 10 hours before the worst of their ordeal ended, with helicopter crews arriving to airlift them to hospital. One survivor was injured, the other was not, said a spokesman for Pacific Coastal. “This was very unusual, an amazing frustrating search,” said Lieutenant-Commander Gerry Pash of the Victoria Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre. The information from the survivor, passed on by a third party, was cryptic but lent the search urgency.
The plane was taking a Seaspan International Ltd. crew to the Interfor logging camp at Chamiss Bay, near the village of Kyuquot. It was a routine trip and a spokesman for Pacific Coastal said the pilot was experienced with the area.
“We can confirm it did not make it to its final destination,” said Spencer Smith, vice-president for customer relations. He would not identify the pilot. “He’s been flying with us for a few years in that area.” He said the company makes 75 to 100 flights a day. “Our hearts go out to the families involved, and that’s our priority now,” Mr. Smith said.
Kelly Francis, a spokeswoman for Seaspan International, would not identify the crew. However she did confirm they were travelling on a routine trip to meet the tugboat Seaspan King to load logs from the camp to be hauled down the coast. There were six Seaspan employees on the flight.
Late Sunday night, Seaspan said in a statement that four of its employees died in the crash. “We offer our deepest sympathies to the families and will be working with them and the two Seaspan survivors to provide grief and trauma counselling,” said the Vancouver-based tugboat company, a subsidiary of the Washington Marine Group.
Lt-Cmdr. Pash said search-and-rescue crews weren’t called in until 10 a.m. when Pacific Coastal officials, having failed to find the aircraft on their own, asked for assistance.
The search was conducted by 442 Squadron out of the nearby Comox airforce base, using fixed-wing Buffalos and Cormorant helicopters. Local loggers turned up to try to search on the ground, and RCMP and the airline also contributed to the search.
The amphibious aircraft was taking an overland route, almost due south from the northeast coast of Vancouver Island to the west coast, covering high mountain peaks. Lt.-Cmdr. Pash estimated the plane went down just 10 minutes after it took off, based on the crash location roughly mid-island.
He said the 50-year-old, second-growth trees were perfect for hiding even an aircraft with a 15-metre wingspan, tall but still flexible enough to spring back and cover the wreckage.