Family of 5, Toronto-area couple killed in Kingston, Ont., plane crash
Aircraft bound for Quebec City changed course shortly before crash
A pilot from Houston, Texas, his family and two adults from Canada died in a small plane crash in Kingston, Ont., Wednesday evening.
Pilot Otabek Oblokulov, his wife, their children ages five, 10 and 14, and another adult couple, Bobomurod Nabiev and his wife who lived in the Toronto area, all died on board, friends of the victims told CBC News.
Nabiev and his partner were permanent residents of Canada and originally from Uzbekistan. CBC was not able to confirm the names of the women or children on board.
The Piper PA-32 plane, better known as a Cherokee Six, was travelling from Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham, Ont., to Quebec City, said Ken Webster, lead crash investigator with the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
Mehmet Basti, a friend of the Oblokulovs, said the family was planning to stopover in Kingston on Wednesday night.
The plane made contact with Kingston's flight service station — a facility that provides information to pilots — before crashing sometime after 5 p.m. ET in a heavily wooded, swampy area in the city's northwest, said theTSB.
The plane hit the ground at a "very steep" angle, said Webster. It's too early to speculate on the cause of the crash, he said.
"I imagine this is a very difficult time for the families and I hope we'll be able to provide some answers in the future," said Webster.
Investigators found the plane ripped apart and strewn between branches and tree trunks, about five kilometres north of the city's airport.
While configurations of the Piper PA-32 can have up to seven seats, the TSB said so far it has only found six seats.
Amanda Anglin, who lives near the crash site, said she heard a loud, booming sound on Wednesday evening, similar to the thunder she'd heard earlier in the day.
Anglin says she saw emergency vehicles speeding past and police later came to her door, asking if she had seen a plane flying low.
"About a half hour after that there were swarms of [police] all through our backfield looking for an aircraft," she said. "They had their four-wheelers, flashlights … There were lots of them."
Emergency crews found the plane, near Creekford Road and Bayridge Drive, with help from a military helicopter. TSB investigators arrived Thursday morning.
Over the next few days they will gather evidence at the crash site and look into factors like weather, maintenance records, pilot training and any communications with air traffic control, said Webster.
Investigators may take all or part of the wreckage to a laboratory for further tests, he said.
'Not the best conditions'
On the night of the crash, Environment Canada had issued a special statement for Kingston, advising that wind gusts could reach up to 80 km/h.
Kais Kalchani, a pilot, flight instructor and manager with the Kingston Flying Club, said he would have hesitated before getting in his plane on Wednesday.
He wouldn't, for example, have taken a student pilot up for training, he said.
"I cannot speak for other people or other pilots but personally I would be thinking about it twice or three times before I would take my airplane to fly," said Kalchani.
"The conditions were not the best conditions to fly," he said, noting there was also a low ceiling, meaning cloud cover was close to the ground.
The Transportation Safety Board will be analyzing weather reports in detail on Wednesday night to determine whether the conditions may have contributed to the crash, said Webster.
"There were reports of deteriorating weather on route; however, at this time, we don't know to what effect this had with the accident," he said.
The TSB, Kingston Police and the coroner's office will be co-ordinating the investigation. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will also play a role because the plane was registered in the United States.
Piper PA-32 planes are not required to have flight data recorders, the TSB noted.
Police are asking motorists to avoid Creekford Road between Westbrook Road and Bayridge Drive until further notice.
WATCH | Chris Krepski, TSB spokesperson, discusses the crash
- A close friend of Otabek Oblokulov's family notified CBC the original version of this story contained inaccurate ages for the children who died in the crash. The ages have been corrected.Dec 10, 2019 3:49 PM ET
With files from Philip Ling, Judy Trinh and Geneviève Normand