British Columbia

B.C. mountaineer died with pilot in float plane crash

Friends have confirmed that one of the two who died in Friday's float plane crash on the west coast of Vancouver Island was Comox, B.C. resident Charles Turner.

Survivor recounts crash aftermath from his hospital bed to his wife

Comox's Charles Turner died in Friday float plane crash 2:23

Friends have confirmed that one of the two people who died in Friday's float plane crash on the west coast of Vancouver Island was Comox, B.C., resident Charles Turner.

The pilot also perished, although his name has not been released by family or friends, or the B.C. Coroners Service.

Turner, an avid hiker and mountaineer, was an active member of the Alpine Club of Canada and was on an excursion organized by fellow club member John Young when their chartered Air Nootka flight to Gold River went down off Hesquiat Lake.

Young, one of the crash survivors, is currently in hospital on Vancouver Island. 

According to Young's wife, who spoke with a CBC affiliate on Vancouver Island on Sunday, her husband suffered a broken sternum, broken ribs on both sides, a broken clavicle and third-degree burns on one of his shins, which will require a skin graft.

Susann Young said she learned about the crash from the news, and only found out her husband was alive after another survivor's wife called her. She said her husband is lucky to be alive.

"From his perspective, the accident happened shortly after takeoff," she said.

"He was sitting in the co-pilot's seat, so he saw a tree looming in front of them and he was hoping that, like in the movies, the pilot would be able to lift the plane over."

"But he felt it hit, and then they crashed."

Flames spread in downed plane

Her husband told her that the trees at the crash site seemed small, not old-growth, and didn't damage the plane too badly when it went in, nose-down. But right after the crash, flames began invading the cabin, and Young was stuck.

The float plane was operated by Air Nootka, based out of Tofino, B.C. (CBC)

"First, his seatbelt wouldn't open, because the front end was kind of crushed. With hiking boots, he couldn't get his feet out.

"And then his side wouldn't open, but the window broke out of the pilot's side. So, he squirmed a bit more and was able to get himself out," she said.

Young told his wife he could hear another person in the plane screaming.

"So he went around and tried to get her out, but she couldn't move, so he ripped part of the plane off. That came off, I guess, easily, and got her out," she said.

He went back and tried to get the pilot out of the plane, but couldn't.

Injured hikers were brought by air from the crash site to Vancouver Island hospitals on Friday. (CBC)

Two members of the hiking party whose injuries were less severe set up lean-tos for Young and the badly-injured woman, and tried to keep them dry and warm while they waited just over five hours for rescuers to find them.

Susann Young says her heart goes out to the families of the two who died.

"This is a major trauma. It will take a long time for people to get over this," she said.

The Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into what caused the float plane to crash just minutes after it took off from Hesquiat Lake Friday morning.

TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood says ongoing bad weather in the area has hampered various teams attempting to reach the crash site over the weekend.

With files from the CBC's Richard Zussman