2019 Gabriola Island crash
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Template:Infobox aircraft occurrence On the evening of December 10, 2019 a small airplane on instrument approach to Runway 16 of Nanaimo Airport (YCD), with three people on-board, crashed into Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada, in dense fog. After experiencing a "system/component failure or malfunction [non-powerplant]," the plane crashed into the northwest corner of the island between Decourcy Drive and the shoreline. According to witnesses, a large explosion accompanied the crash and shook homes in the area. In addition to the island's local fire department and two ambulances being dispatched, an additional 6 ambulances - including advanced life support units - were sent on the next available ferry from Nanaimo, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria was activated. The Canadian Coast Guard was also dispatched and arrived near the scene in a hovercraft, along with two boats from the Nanaimo Port Authority.
The Gabriola Royal Canadian Mounted Police assumed control of the scene upon arrival. Shortly after the crash occurred, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a statement that there were no survivors. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada was notified around 7pm PDT and announced that three investigators will be on-scene December 11. The BC Coroners Service is now in the "preliminary" stages of investigation. In a joint statement by the RCMP and BC Coroners Service it was announced that the RCMP will maintain control of the site until TSB investigators arrive on scene. They will not be releasing any more information at this time. New information is expected to be released once the TSB has arrived and had time to review the wreckage.
Information discovered by the Vancouver Sun indicated initially that it was potentially a twin-engine Piper Aerostar heading north from the United States. The TSB confirmed the following morning that it was a "twin-engine propeller aircraft." The following Saturday it was confirmed by TSB that the plane was a Piper PA-60-602P that crashed after experiencing a "system/component failure or malfunction [non-powerplant]." The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has since concluded the "field phase" of the investigation and has removed the wreckage. Further investigation is underway and will conclude with a formal report.
While no official word has yet been released regarding the number of casualties, the Gabriola RCMP and the BC Coroners Service have stated that all aboard the plane were deceased. Friends of the pilot have identified him as 61-year-old Alex Bahlsen, an ex-flight test examiner for Transport Canada, owner of a flight school, and grandson of Hermann Bahlsen. Bahlsen volunteered with the registered charity, Pilots N Paws Canada Animal Rescue, to fly rescue animals across the country.
Aftermath and Investigation
A trauma support session for the residents affected in the wake of the crash was hosted two days later by the Regional District of Nanaimo. The Transportation Safety Board investigation is ongoing and few details surrounding the crash have been announced. The TSB has since moved to the analysis phase of its investigation, which will conclude in the release of a formal report on the accident.
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