This May 13, 2019 photo provided by Ryan Sinkey, shows a Coast Guard Station Ketchikan response boat crew searching for survivors from a downed floatplane in the vicinity of George Inlet near Ketchikan, Alaska. Two floatplanes carrying cruise ship tourists collided Monday near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan. (Ryan Sinkey via AP)

B.C. woman, 37, among six killed in Alaska floatplane crash

The floatplanes were carrying cruise ship tourists when they collided Monday

A 37-year-old woman from Richmond, B.C., has been identified as the Canadian killed when two sightseeing floatplanes crashed midair in Alaska earlier this week.

Elsa Wilk is one of the six deceased victims named by Alaska State Troopers late Tuesday.

The floatplanes were carrying cruise ship tourists when they collided Monday near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan.

The death toll was initially reported as four, with two people missing. The U.S. Coast Guard said the bodies of the two missing people were recovered near the crash site Tuesday night.

Global Affairs Canada says Canadian consular officials in Seattle were in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and provide assistance as needed.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and loved ones of the Canadian citizen who died in Alaska,” the department said.

The American victims were identified as 46-year-old pilot Randy Sullivan from Ketchikan, 62-year-old Cassandra Webb, 39-year-old Ryan Wilk and 46-year-old Louis Botha.

State troopers said the Australian was 56-year-old Simon Bodie.

READ MORE: 1 Canadian among 4 killed in floatplane crash in Alaska

The Royal Princess cruise ship left Vancouver for Anchorage on Saturday and was to return on May 25.

Coast Guard Commander Michael Kahle said earlier Tuesday that crews were searching both the water and the shore of a remote area called George Inlet for the two missing — the Canadian and Australian.

He said the area is en route to the Misty Fjords National Monument, a popular and active spot for sightseeing flights.

One of the planes was a single-engine de Havilland Otter operated by Taquan Air and was returning from a wilderness tour sold through Princess Cruises of the Misty Fjords, the company said.

It was carrying 10 guests from the Royal Princess and a pilot, who were all Americans, the statement said.

The other plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was operating an independent flight tour carrying a pilot and four guests, of which two were American, one was Canadian and the other was Australian, the company added.

The pilot and nine passengers on the Otter were able to make their way to shore, where they were rescued and taken to hospital, Kahle said.

The survivors were in fair or good condition, said Marty West, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Local emergency responders worked with state and federal agencies and private vessels to help rescue and recover victims.

“It’s been a long day and the crews have been working really hard to rescue people and recover the deceased,” said Deanna Thomas, a spokeswoman for the local government, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Jerry Kiffer of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad said several of the passengers had been removed from the beach by the time his crews arrived on Monday.

“Obviously, we had some injuries — broken bones, lacerations, back injuries, but everybody was reasonably calm,” he told the news conference Tuesday.

The debris field was about 300 metres wide and 800 metres long, with doors, seats and life-jackets strewn in a way that indicated an aircraft had come apart in the air, Kiffer said.

Taquan Air said the company has suspended operations while the crash is investigated.

“We are devastated … and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families,” it said in a statement.

It’s not known how the planes collided. U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived from Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon.

READ MORE: Three killed, one survives after plane crash near Smithers

— By Daniela Germano in Edmonton and Laura Kane in Vancouver

— With files from The Associated Press

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

Fernie hires new bylaw officer to oversee health orders

Tom Kramer joined the City of Fernie to help ensure COVID-19 health directives are being followed

Camping, motorized recreation banned at Koocanusa

Restrictions in effect immediately for spring and summer

Funding denied for new community centre in Fernie

The City of Fernie was unsuccessful in applications for funding for the proposed community centre

Fernie real estate market sees effects of COVID-19

The way Elk Valley realtors work amidst COVID-19 is constantly evolving

COVID-19 greatly impacts future of seasonal workers

Faced with job loss and lack of financial support, many overseas workers were forced to return home

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read