An investigator takes photos near the scene of a small plane crash on Gabriola Island, B.C., Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Three people were onboard the small plane that crashed on Gabriola Island earlier this week, Transport Canada has confirmed.

According to a preliminary information bulletin posted on the department’s website, three people were killed when a Piper PA-60-602P Aerostar plunged into a wooded glen on Gabriola in the evening hours of Dec. 10.

The update notes that the plane was nearing the Nanaimo Airport when it reported an “equipment issue” and then deviated from its approach and ultimately dropped off radar. The twin-engine plane was arriving from Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop, Calif.

The Transportation Safety Board released an update Friday evening notifying that it has completed its work at the crash site.

“Investigators spent three days documenting the aircraft, interviewing witnesses, and collecting data. The wreckage has been removed from the site and will be securely stored for further analysis over the coming days and weeks,” the update noted.

The TSB will now work to classify the accident, which will determine the scope of the investigation to follow.

B.C. Coroners Service confirmed three people died in the plane crash in a news release issued Friday afternoon. Although the identities of the victims were not disclosed, the news release notes that a man from Mill Bay, B.C., “and two other decedents, one male and one female” were onboard the aircraft.

The Mill Bay man was Alex Bahlsen, 62, a member of the Nanaimo Flying Club.

In a statement released to media, the Bahlsen family said it is “absolutely devastated” about the news and described Alex as a loving husband, father, and grandfather who was “just a short flight away.”

“We knew this day could come; however, Alex always had a way of making us feel like it never would,” the family said.

They said flying was Alex’s true passion.

Alex was taken from us while he was doing something he loved,” they said. “He never hesitated to share the joy of flying with others and the beauty from the air that captivated him. Alex believed that ‘it’s always sunny above the clouds.’”

A celebration of life for Bahlsen will be held at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada located in Nanton, Alta. on Dec. 20. A memorial fund will be established in his name “so others can share in his passion of flying” according to the family.

On Wednesday, the Nanaimo Flying Club posted a statement on Facebook paying tribute to Bahlsen and describing him as a “amazing pilot, mentor and friend” with unwavering professionalism.

Benjamin Werbski, vice-president of the Nanaimo Flying Club, told the News Bulletin that Bahlsen was a great person and leader, was highly respected, and will be remembered by the flying club as “really positive and a nice guy.”

“Everybody knew his plane,” Werbski said.

RELATED: Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

He said Bahlsen’s death has hit the club hard.

“It’s very sad when something like this happens,” he said. “It affects the entire community and the general aviation community.”

While Bahlsen’s death has impacted the flying club, Werbski said pilots of all ages are well aware of the risks associated with flying.

“Unfortunately, these things happen and they happen more frequently than you want to see…” he said. “It’s a sad thing to have occurred but once the TSB gets down to the root of the problem, we all learn from it. You have to.”

Werbski said the Nanaimo Flying Club will do something in Bahlsen’s honour in the near future.

READ MORE: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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

 

Alex Bahlsen, who died in a plane crash on Gabriola Island on Tuesday. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Saanich Peninsula steps into post-pandemic phase

Pending partial re-opening of local schools signals new start

Craft vendors allowed to re-join Goldstream Farmers Market

Dr. Bonnie Henry lightens restrictions, approves non-food items to be sold

Three people sent to hospital following serious crash in View Royal

Incident involved a motorcycle and one vehicle on Sunday afternoon

Saanich high school student wins free educational trip through Europe

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize centers on First, Second World War history

Province recognizes three Greater Victoria residents for work to combat racism

The three residents were recognized during the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Man dies in ATV accident south of Nanaimo

Incident happened on backroad Friday night in Nanaimo Lakes area

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read