Residents look on as an RCMP vehicle blocks a road near the the scene of a small plane crash on Gabriola Island, B.C., Wednesday, Dec.11, 2019. The BC Coroners Service and police have confirmed multiple fatalities in a plane crash off the east coast of Vancouver Island.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Three investigators from the Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive early this afternoon at the scene of a plane crash which officials say took several lives off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash

The BC Coroners Service and the RCMP confirm there were multiple fatalities when the small plane went down around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday on the northwest corner of Gabriola Island.

Few details were immediately available about the size or type of the plane or the number of passengers.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson said in a statement that the department was in the preliminary stages of finding out who died and under what circumstances.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau says the area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood.

He says there is no indication that people were forced from their homes because of the crash.

“Nobody that was on the ground that we’re aware of was injured,” he said Wednesday.

Gabriola Island is about a 15-kilometre ferry ride east of Nanaimo. Manseau said he understands that BC Ferries was contacted soon after the crash and a scheduled supper-hour trip to the island was held back to allow more emergency service personnel to board and get to the crash site.

“In very short order we had a full crew of paramedics and firefighters from Nanaimo who actually headed to Gabriola Island.”

The site was cordoned off prior to Transport Safety Board investigators moving in.

“I would assume an airplane crash is going to have a pretty significant area for a debris field,” Manseau said.

Bette Lou Hagen, who lives in the area, said she was reading a novel when she heard “like a loud sonic boom or something.”

“I heard a loud engine — it didn’t sound like a car engine — but it was really shaking my house and then I heard a loud crash. Then — I don’t how much later it was — I heard an explosion,” she said.

She went outside but could not see much because the area has a lot of trees, and then called the police.

The plane crashed about 50 metres from her backyard, she said.

“It was pretty awful. I’m still shaking.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

On Nov. 8, 2017 as the search was called off, white tents and black privacy fencing were no longer visible at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek and fewer police vehicles were present. (File photo)
Several police vehicles seen at and around Sagmoen farm in Shuswap Thursday night

RCMP at Silver Creek property where the remains of an 18-year-old Vernon woman were found in 2017

The Downtown Vernon Association is requesting free parking on Saturdays in 2021 to boost recovery efforts of businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Free Saturday parking in Vernon must wait for budget talks

Downtown Vernon Association request to boost shopping local amid pandemic

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Crime up 31 per cent in Vernon in 2019: Statistics Canada

Increase includes a 45 per cent rise in violent Criminal Code violations

City of Vernon councillors vote in favour of extending opportunities to activate outdoor spaces and patios until Oct. 31, 2021, in its Oct. 26, 2020, meeting of council. (City of Vernon - Contributed)
Vernon patio season extended amid COVID-19

City extends temporary measures to boost local businesses downtown

Four staff members at the Okanagan Men’s Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 since Oct. 23, 2020. (Adult and Teen Challenge OMC photo)
Four positive COVID-19 cases at Okanagan Men’s Centre

Those affected are staff and have been in isolation since Oct. 23

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Superintendent of the Kelowna RCMP, Kara Triance. (Capital News file)
Non-violent crime, small population contributes to Kelowna’s crime rate spike, says RCMP

Kelowna RCMP is assuring the public the city is a safe place

A Tuesday Oct. 27, 2020 apartment fire in Penticton killed two and displaced dozens more. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Fatal Penticton apartment fire deemed accidental

The blaze gutted an apartment building on Tuesday morning, killing two people and displacing dozens

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports seven more COVID-19 cases

Eighty-nine cases remain active, none of whom are currently hospitalized

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

This Photoshopped version of the crosswalks near the entrance to the Salmon Arm Arts Centre on Hudson Avenue show what is proposed to help create safety for and show inclusivity to the LGBTQ2S+ community. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
Tri-rainbow crosswalk and Progress flag requested to help make Salmon Arm safe

Council will consider budget requests to help make city inclusive to LBGTQ2S+ community

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Animal care manager Tracy Reynolds confirmed the lynx is the same wildcat that was spotted wandering North Kamloops in broad daylight on Sunday, Oct. 25. BC Wildlife Park.
Lynx found wandering Kamloops taken to BC Wildlife Park

While the lynx’s outward appearance was deemed normal, it actually had an abdominal infection

Most Read