Officials have confirmed that three people died when a Cessna 185 float plane crashed near the northern end of Vancouver Island just before noon today.

The crash happened at approximately 11:45 a.m. PT near the community of Potts Lagoon on West Cracroft Island, east of Port McNeill.

Dom Lassonde, of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria, said the crash was phoned in by a witness.

"We had a concerned citizen phoning in a little earlier on today about a visual of an aircraft going down and hitting hard off West Cracroft Island," he said. "[Search and rescue] techs were able to identify that there's three deceased."

Lassonde said the pilot and two contractors on board the single-engine plane died in the crash.

"Investigators have confirmed that the plane originated from the Port McNeill area, and continue to work on determining its intended destination," Island District RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan said in a written statement.

"The BC Coroners Service has been notified, and will be attending the crash site. The Transportation Safety Board has been notified," he said.

Joel Eilertsen, the CEO of Air Cab, confirmed that the Cessna 185 that crashed was operated by his company.

Air Cab is based in Coal Harbour, B.C., on Vancouver Island.

Potts Lagoon, north side of West Cracroft Island, Johnstone Strait View Larger Map