Grand Manan mayor says plane crash victims will be missed
Charter flight company owner, paramedic both went above and beyond: Greene
The mayor of Grand Manan says the two people killed in an air ambulance plane crash Saturday will be dearly missed.
"We are a very small community. I think we're 2,370 people. A loss like this - we look at this as a family member," said Dennis Greene.
A twin-engine Piper PA31 belonging to Atlantic Charters crashed on its way back from Saint John at about 5 a.m. Saturday, just metres from the runway at the Grand Manan Airport.
There were four people on board.
Horizon Health said a registered nurse was released from hospital Sunday. Greene identified her as Grand Manan hospital manager Courtney Budgell.
One pilot remains in hospital in stable condition.
"We're wishing them a speedy recovery," said Greene.
Another pilot, company owner Klaus Sonnenberg, of Grand Manan, died in the crash, as did island paramedic William Mallock.
"I've known Billy since he was a young boy," recalled Greene. "He's always been involved in community. He always had a smile on his face, always cheerful, willing to help."
Greene said Mallock was dedicated to his job.
"A lot of our EMTs or paramedics are mainland people. Billy was a Grand Mananer. He knows how — we think a little different than the people on the mainland and he knows how to handle a situation on Grand Manan. He's going to be greatly missed," the mayor said.
Greene added that Mallock was very helpful to the elderly people of the village, even during off-work hours.
In recent years Mallock and his wife were both involved in a community low-income housing effort, said the mayor.
Greene said Sonnenberg, the other crash victim, arrived on Grand Manan in the 1980s, initially working as a fisheries officer. He started with a small plane and built his company into a successful business, operating in all four Atlantic provinces.
"I can't say enough good about Klaus," said Greene. "I wouldn't even put a number on the number of lives he has saved," said Greene.
Greene said he often used the charter service to attend meetings in Fredericton.
Premier David Alward has also often used the service since the government plane was sold, said Greene.
He said the premier called him after the crash to express his condolences to the people of Grand Manan and ensure them alternate arrangements would be worked out to cover the air ambulance service.
Future of Grand Manan air ambulance
Health Minister Ted Flemming issued this statement Sunday on Twitter:
"Residents' safety is our priority. @AmbulanceNB has stationed an additional ambulance and two additional crews on the island," he said.
"The Air Care plane will be posted in Saint John, closer to the island, whenever possible as we work on a long-term solution," said Flemming.
Mayor Greene said he believed the company will continue to operate, noting Sonnenberg has two sons who are pilots, including one who currently works for Atlantic Charters.