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Multiple fatalities after plane crashes on Gabriola Island off B.C. coast

GABRIOLA ISLAND, B.C. — The BC Coroners Service and police have confirmed multiple fatalities in a plane crash off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson said a small plane crashed on the northwest corner of Gabriola Island around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The BC Coroners Service has also been notified of multiple fatalities and is in the preliminary stages of its fact-finding investigation to determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means the deceased came to their sudden, unexpected deaths,” he said in a statement.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau said the crash will be investigated by multiple agencies including the Transportation Safety Board.

Sophie Wistaff of the Transportation Safety Board said three investigators will be on site Wednesday morning to begin gathering information to determine what happened.

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

RCMP and BC Coroners Service said they would not be releasing any further information on the crash Tuesday night.

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 and 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.”

Gabriola Island is about a 15 kilometre ferry ride from Nanaimo, B.C. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2019.

The Canadian Press