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Coroner yet to release names of Vernon plane crash victims

Onlookers survey the remains of a Piper twin engine aircraft that crashed into Marshall Field Saturday after clipping a tree and a concrete park bench, shortly after taking off from Vernon Airport around 1 p.m. The two male occupants from Kelowna and Port Moody were killed. - lisa vandervelde/morning star
Onlookers survey the remains of a Piper twin engine aircraft that crashed into Marshall Field Saturday after clipping a tree and a concrete park bench, shortly after taking off from Vernon Airport around 1 p.m. The two male occupants from Kelowna and Port Moody were killed.
— image credit: lisa vandervelde/morning star

Dental records may be required to fully confirm the identities of the two men killed in Saturday’s plane crash in Vernon.

All that is officially known as of 1 p.m. Monday is that the pilot was a 59-year-old man from Kelowna, and his passenger was a 55-year-old man from Port Moody. That information was released Saturday night by RCMP.

No official information as to who owned the plane has been released as of Monday.

The men were killed just before 1 p.m. Saturday when their Piper twin engine aircraft crashed into Marshall Field, very close to the VantageOne Indoor Soccer Centre in Vernon’s Okanagan Landing district.

“It is possible the plane had stopped in Vernon to refuel, but I don’t know that for sure,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk. “I don’t know where they were headed or where the flight originated from.”

One witness said the plane listed to the left just after takeoff from the Vernon Airport, whose runway neighbours the soccer facility, and crashed into the field.

Molendyk himself was among the first to hear the explosion as he and his wife, Christiane, were on the opposite side of the field at a clubhouse preparing for a wedding.

“I heard a large explosion, then looked over to see black smoke and an object in flames,” said Molendyk. “I didn’t know it was a plane until I saw the tail section.”

Marshall Field, from April to June, is very busy mid-day Saturdays with youth soccer players, coaches and referees on the pitches, and full of parents, relatives and friends watching the matches.

The plane clipped a small tree and is believed to have hit a concrete bench before exploding in flames.

The coroner and Transportation Safety Board have taken over the investigation, but no names or any TSB findings had been released Monday.

 

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