BELLA BELLA—Four victims of a plane crash and fire on a remote island shoreline Friday all survived, thanks in part to the fortunate nearby presence of an RCMP ship in the area at the time of the crash.
RCMP West Coast Marine Service members just happened to be in the community of Shearwater near Bella Bella when the Beaver float plane crashed and burst into flames just above the high tide line just before 4 p.m. July 11.
The ship’s crew received a Mayday Relay on their VHF Radio indicating a float plane had crashed and was on fire just north of St. John Harbour, near the south entrance of the Seaforth Channel.
“This location was just over one hour from the location of the Patrol Vessel Lindsay,” Cpl. Dave Tyreman of the North District RCMP in Prince George said in a written release. “Realizing that time was of the essence for the injured, Sgt. Rob Pikola had Cst’s Roe and Judd deploy a 733 rigid hull inflatable fast-response vessel, which allowed them to arrive on scene within thirty minutes.”
The fast-response boat was followed by the Lindsay, which arrived in just under an hour.
“Due to the quick response of our members involved, everyone on the downed Beaver floatplane received medical treatment within thirty minutes of the crash,” said Sgt. Pikola. “Not only was it fortunate that we were close by, but there was a fishing charter boat in the area that had six medical doctors on board from the Williams Lake and Vanderhoof area.”
Several other Coast Guard resources were deployed in the incident, including the Cape Farewell, two fast-response vessels and a Search and Rescue helicopter and Buffalo aircraft. Members of the Lindsay were able to assist with the transport of two of the four people from the crash. The more seriously injured passengers were transported by the Cape Farewell to Bella Bella hospital.
The aircraft was burned beyond recovery, the RCMP reported.