3 N.W.T. plane crash victims were tourists from Alta., Sask.
Woman from Alberta, female pilot survived crash near Nahanni National Park Reserve
The three people who died in Thursday's deadly plane crash near Fort Simpson, N.W.T., were tourists from Alberta and Saskatchewan who were on a day tour of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, according to Ted Grant, the owner of Simpson Air.
Five people were in a Cessna 206 that went down at Little Doctor Lake at 6:35 p.m. MT. Three passengers died: two from Saskatchewan and one from Alberta.
Another passenger — a woman from Alberta — survived, along with the female pilot, according to Grant.
The territory's Health and Social Services department told CBC News on Friday that the women were taken to the Fort Simpson Health Centre on Thursday evening, but weren't hurt.
Grant could not provide the names of the people on the plane, but said next of kin had been notified, which the Transportation Safety Board also confirmed.
"Accidents happen, and we try to prevent them," he said Saturday. "We're still not sure what happened."
The passengers were two couples who were out on a day tour of Nahanni National Park Reserve, Grant said. The plane took off from Fort Simpson and had been on the adventure for four to five hours before the plane went down.
The tourists already had a chance to visit the park reserve and see Virginia Falls that day, and were planning to stop at Little Doctor Lake to take in the scenery, Grant said.
The cause of the plane crash remains unclear.
Jon Lee, who works with the Transportation Safety Board in Edmonton, said Saturday the plane is being recovered from the lake and investigators are expected to be in Fort Simpson on Monday.
The crash has been a shock to everyone at the airline and no one is working right now, Grant said, though he expects the airline to open again next week.
People in the community are also expressing sadness.
"I'm so, so sorry for the people that got hurt in this accident and died," said Merle Snider, a longtime Fort Simpson resident and waitress at the Nahanni Inn restaurant.
"I'm sorry to the families in Saskatchewan, and the family in Alberta. I hope this doesn't make you not want to come here and visit Fort Simpson. It's beautiful here."
Although Snider said the crash makes her more nervous to fly, she speaks highly of the airline's owner, Grant.
"So many people love him around here," she said. "He does so many nice things for people."
Grant is a friend to many people in the community, said Martina Norwegian, a community leader and a member of the Liidlii Kue First Nation.
She said her heart goes out to him.
"It's difficult, you know, to think of moving forward right now when you're in the midst of such sadness," said Norwegian, who described a sense of heaviness in Fort Simpson.
However, she said the community is there for him and will pull together through the hard time.
"It'll be difficult to move on, but we will. And as a community," she said.
With files from Kirsten Murphy