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

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attending retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Unclear how reported group of 20 will be following COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of Abbotsford student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

John Redekop, with wife Doris, was the 2019 recipient of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award from UFV. (Photo courtesy of UFV)
Nominations open until Oct. 30 for UFV’s Betty Urquhart Awards

Award recognizes ‘significant impact’ of volunteer work by an individual or group

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read