Nfld. & Labrador

American father, 2 sons among passengers on floatplane in fatal Labrador crash

The body of a fishing guide from N.L., another American have been recovered

Posted: July 19, 2019
Last Updated: July 19, 2019

John Weaver III is shown in a family photo. A family of three American men, John Weaver II and his sons John Weaver III and Matt Weaver, were among the seven people on a floatplane that crashed into a remote Labrador lake on Monday. (Weaver family/The Canadian Press)

An American father and his two sons vacationing in Canada on a fishing getaway were on board the small floatplane that crashed into a remote Labrador lake on Monday, The Canadian Press has confirmed.

John Weaver II, 66, of Chicago is among the three men who have been confirmed dead, his wife Linda Weaver said in a brief phone conversation Friday.

The couple's sons Matthew Weaver, 38, and John Weaver III, 40, are among the four men who are still missing, she said.


She said that the family is "devastated" but holding out hope as the search slowly unfolds.

The body of a 47-year-old fishing guide from Newfoundland and Labrador was recovered from the wreckage as well as the bodies of the senior Weaver and a 67-year-old man from New Jersey

Recovery mission began Friday

On Friday morning, the RCMP released more information on the seven people in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane that crashed into Mistastin Lake on Monday.

Search and rescue technicians (SAR Techs) onboard a Cormorant helicopter recovered the three bodies, after requesting permission from the coroner who has jurisdiction, said Maj. Mark Gough, a spokesperson for the Canadian Armed Forces.

"We asked to help in the recovery given the remote location of the crash as a means to help the RCMP but also to help provide closure for the families," Gough said in an email to CBC News on Friday.

Gilles Morin, a 66-year-old pilot with Air Saguenay, was one of the seven on the plane. (Jean Tremblay/The Canadian Press)

Gough said that on Tuesday, rescuers on a Hercules aircraft spotted three bodies in the water near the site of the crash. When the Cormorant arrived later that day the crew confirmed bodies in the water and the priority was to search for survivors.


One body was taken to the Nain RCMP detachment, as that was the closest location for the helicopter to refuel, and the other two bodies were taken by Goose Bay RCMP, Gough said.

The remaining four men — Matthew Weaver, John Weaver III, the 66-year-old pilot Gilles Morin from Quebec and a 50-year-old guide from Newfoundland and Labrador — are still missing. They are presumed dead.

Sources tell CBC News the 47-year-old man was from central Newfoundland, and that his body will be returned to his family after an autopsy in St. John's.

I will always remember the stories he would share of his adventures. ​​​​​ — Doug Dorgan

A statement by Weaver Consultants Group, a Chicago-based company founded by the elder John Weaver in 1991, described him as "a nationally recognized leader in engineering and environmental service."

It also noted the younger John Weaver, known as Johnny, of Indiana, was a project manager with the company.

Weaver Consultants Group co-president Doug Dorgan described the company founder as someone defined by his mentorship qualities and his passion for sport and family.


"I will always remember the stories he would share of his adventures, his passion for the sport, and the time he spent with close family and friends," Dorgan wrote of his friend.

Matthew Weaver lived in Illinois with his wife and five-month-old daughter, the statement read.

3 fatal crashes in 9 years

The RCMP began flying 10 to 15 people and supplies to Mistastin Lake in northern Labrador on Friday morning to search for the bodies of the missing, after weather impeded them Thursday.

The floatplane was operated by Air Saguenay — a small Quebec airline that has had three fatal crashes in nine years.

Members of the Weaver family, left to right, father John Weaver II, daughter Sara, son Matt, mother Linda and son John Weaver III are shown in a family photo. (Weaver family/The Canadian Press)

The RCMP underwater recovery team, Labrador's general investigation unit and air services headed to the area with help from Nain's ground search and rescue team.


Jean Tremblay, president of Air Saguenay, has described Morin as a safe and experienced pilot who was loved by colleagues and friends.

Tremblay said the plane had recently been inspected and was not close to being due for another inspection. He said he was at a loss to explain what could have caused the crash.

Morin had worked with Three Rivers Lodge in Labrador for about six years. Air Saguenay had earlier this week said he was 61 years old. 

The group was flying from the lodge, near Schefferville, Que., to Mistastin Lake as part of an excursion.

Robin Reeve, managing partner at Three Rivers Lodge, declined to comment Friday until all the plane's occupants had been located.

"We're all praying that they can find everybody," Reeve said.


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Mistastin Lake was formed by a meteor strike in northern Labrador. It's very remote, only accessible by air. (Michael Zanetti)

With files from The Canadian Press