Jim Prentice's plane crashed only eight minutes after takeoff, TSB says

The plane carrying former Alberta premier Jim Prentice and three others crashed only eight minutes after take off, killing all on board, the Transportation Safety Board said Saturday.

Retired Mountie, businessman and optometrist identified as other victims in crash outside Kelowna, B.C.

Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice died in a plane crash on Thursday that also took the lives of his friends Dr. Ken Gellatly, businessman Sheldon Reid, and pilot Jim Kruk.

The plane carrying former Alberta premier Jim Prentice and three others crashed only eight minutes after take off, killing all on board, the Transportation Safety Board said Saturday. 

The TSB said the Cessna Citation disappeared from radar at 9:40 p.m. PT on Thursday, only 11 kilometres north of Kelowna Airport.

"Initial examination suggests the aircraft was destroyed from high deceleration forces after a vertical descent," said Beverley Harvey, the TSB investigator-in-charge.

"There were no emergency or distress calls made," she said.

An overview of the Cessna Citation wreckage showing landing gear. (Transportation Safety Board)

The plane, which was built in 1974, was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder, Harvey said, adding that it was not a requirement.

She said investigators would review any electronic components that could give them clues as to the cause of the crash.

Five investigators are currently at the site, and the full investigation will take up to a year to complete, Harvey said.

The TSB said the Cessna Citation carrying four passengers, including former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, disappeared from radar only 8 minutes after taking off from of Kelowna Airport. (TSB)

Retired RCMP officer, optometrist and businessman

Earlier in the day, the pilot in the fatal crash was identified as retired RCMP officer Jim Kruk.

A statement released by his family says the 62-year-old Airdrie, Alta., resident had been an "avid aviator" since 1976, and pursued his passion for flying further in 2007 after a career with the Mounties.

The other two passengers were identified as Dr. Ken Gellatly and Sheldon Reid.

Gellatly, the father-in-law of Prentice's daughter Cassia, was a well-known Calgary optometrist and a part-time faculty member at the Vision Care Institute.

Reid, 60 was a retired Calgary businessman. 

Sheldon Reid, seen here with son Dylan, will be "fondly remembered for his smile, his laugh, and the depth of his care and compassion for those he loved," the family said. (Reid family)

"Sheldon was an avid golfer, investor, and business enthusiast," the family said in a statement.

"He travelled extensively for his work and enjoyed telling stories from his times in the international business community, whether in China, Brazil, South Korea and South Africa."

Reid had one son, Dylan.

Kruk leaves behind wife Darlene and two teenage sons, Grayden and Ryland. 

Jim Kruk with wife Darlene and sons Grayden, 19, and Ryland, 17. The Williams-Kruk family extended their condolences to the other families affected by the tragedy. (Williams-Kruk family)

"Jim is dearly missed by his family and his lifelong friends in the Air Cadets, RCMP and aviation communities," the family said in a statement on Saturday.

"Jim was a professional's professional, meticulous and methodical in all his accomplishments," they added.

The 83 Juno Beach Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Calgary posted a message of condolence on Facebook.

"Jim leaves behind a family with a great connection to the cadet program, and the Canadian Armed Forces and we are saddened along with our entire community," the message said.

TSB investigation

The Cessna jet was en route from Kelowna, B.C., to the Springbank airport, near Calgary, when it went down shortly after takeoff late Thursday.

The jet's owners, Norjet Inc., said in a statement Friday that the company will co-operate with the investigation.

Prentice, 60, who was also a former federal cabinet minister, quit politics in May 2015 after the Alberta NDP swept the Progressive Conservatives from power.

With files from The Canadian Press


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