Okanagan plane crash witness recounts finding pilot alive
Cessna 180 outfitted with floats went down northwest of Vernon shortly before 7 p.m. PT Monday
The first person to reach a man who was seriously injured but walked away after a small float plane crashed outside Vernon in B.C.'s North Okanagan on Monday says the pilot was "damn lucky."
"He looked pretty damn good for a man who just crashed his plane," said Ed Rougeau, who lives nearby and witnessed the crash.
"I was feeding the horses and I heard a plane gliding in behind me," Rougeau said. "And in amongst the trees I saw the plane going down. And three or four seconds later, I heard the crash."
Two local fire departments confirmed they had received reports of an aircraft going down in a heavily wooded area on the west side of Okanagan Lake at around 6:45 p.m. PT.
One of those reports came from Rougeau's wife.
"I yelled to my wife to call 911, and I hopped on the quad and I headed down towards where I thought he'd be," he said.
Rougeau figures it took him 20 minutes to reach the downed Cessna 180, including a trek down a steep hillside and across a creek.
The pilot was conscious, but in shock.
"He said his engine just stalled. He had a quarter tank of fuel and it just, just quit," Rougeau said.
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Witness helps emergency crew find pilot
Rougeau could see the man had abrasions on his head and he stayed with him awhile, applying pressure to one of the wounds.
But Rougeau knew it would be hard for anyone else on the ground to find them, so he left the pilot and started walking out along the creek to meet the emergency crews headed to the crash scene.
Crew members walked the pilot out partway and then transported him to hospital.
"He's damn lucky, he's damn lucky," said Rougeau, reflecting on the scene. "It was pretty steep on the east side and the west side of the creek banks."
The Transportation Safety Board has not confirmed it is investigating, but a spokesman said the TSB does look into cases where a crash may have been caused by a mechanical issue that could be present in other aircraft.