British Columbia

Identities of 1987 plane crash victims confirmed by DNA analysis: RCMP

DNA evidence recovered from the wreckage of a floatplane that crashed more than 32 years ago has confirmed the identities of the two people on board, RCMP in Salmon Arm, B.C., say.

Remains found at remote B.C. crash site are those of Ernie Whitehead and Len Dykhuizen, police say

Pilot Ernie Whitehead and passenger Len Dykhuizen took off from Eagle Bay near Salmon Arm, B.C., on a fishing trip on June 20, 1987. The wreckage of the floatplane they were travelling in was found in September 2018. (RCMP)

DNA evidence recovered from the wreckage of a floatplane that crashed more than 32 years ago has confirmed the identities of the two people on board, RCMP in Salmon Arm, B.C., say.

On June 20, 1987, a white Piper Super Cub floatplane left Eagle Bay, near Salmon Arm, with pilot Ernie Whitehead, 78, and passenger Len Dykhuizen, 55, on board.

The pair planned to go fishing at McDougall Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, but never returned. Their plane was located in September 2018 near Kostal Lake, just south of their intended destination. 

DNA analysis has now proven that the bodies found in the wreckage are those of Whitehead and Dykhuizen, RCMP confirmed Monday.

"[We] are pleased that we have now been able to provide their family with answers to some long-standing questions. This discovery ends over three decades of uncertainty," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey.

Part of the wreckage of the Piper Super Cub found in a remote area of Wells Gray Provincial Park in September 2018, 31 years after the plane was last seen. (B.C. RCMP)

Last September, a search team looking for an unrelated missing Alberta aircraft located the floatplane's wreckage, according to an RCMP release.

The preliminary investigation determined the wreckage was that of the plane Whitehead and Dykhuizen were travelling in.

RCMP said access to the crash site was difficult due to extremely rugged and treacherous terrain with steep inclines and year-round snow pack.

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