Richmond woman dies with husband and brother in Alaska float plane crash

The float planes collided Monday near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan.

A Metro Vancouver woman died with her husband and brother in a float plane crash in Alaska on Monday, and friends and family are remembering them as driven, passionate people who will be deeply missed.

Elsa Wilk, 37, from Richmond, B.C., and Ryan Wilk, 39, originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, were married and lived together in Metro Vancouver where they worked in the tech sector, friends and colleagues said.

An American named Louis Botha, 46, also died in the crash. Elsa Wilk’s ex-husband Ian Brink said the man was her brother, and at one point Botha lived in San Diego with his wife and kids.

Brink said Elsa Wilk’s maiden name was Botha and she was born in Pretoria, South Africa, where they met. They were married from 2006 to 2012 and immigrated to the Vancouver area together because she had a sister in Richmond, he said.

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

Friends and teammates said she competed in taekwondo at the national level. She was passionate about the sport and worked hard to achieve her black belt, said Brink.

“We were young and had a thirst for life, and taekwondo was her thing,” he said. “She had this itch to always push herself, her body and her mind, so I think it was a good way to confront that — push yourself to the maximum and see what you’re made of.”

He said he hadn’t kept in touch with her in recent years, but when he knew her she loved technology and computer games, and was an avid runner who participated in the Vancouver Sun Run.

Brianne Rigetti, a former taekwondo teammate on the B.C. Senior Women’s Pattern Team, said Elsa Wilk was a “fierce friend and competitor with a work ethic like no other.”

“It didn’t matter if you hadn’t spoken for months or hours, it was always like no time had passed at all. She would be there for you at a moment’s notice, sometime even when you didn’t know that was exactly what you needed,” Rigetti said.

“I am so fortunate to have called her my friend, to have travelled and competed with her and to have shared a part of my life with her. She touched so many lives that are better for meeting her and there are a lot of people who lost an amazing friend, competitor, teammate and companion.”

Members of Metro Vancouver’s booming technology industry also mourned the couple, with former co-worker Derek Bolen saying Elsa Wilk brought a sense of healthy competition to everything she did.

“When we worked together she was a highly driven, incredibly intelligent and supportive person who you could always rely on for personal or professional advice and I considered her a close friend,” he said.

They worked together at Clio, a legal software company. The marketing team once made red “Elsa Army” T-shirts for staff to support her when she was competing in taekwondo, he remembered.

Her LinkedIn page said she had worked in marketing for several technology companies and helped launch CryptoKitties, a video game based on a growing technology called blockchain.

Ryan Wilk’s LinkedIn account described him as vice-president of product and market innovation at NuData Security, a Mastercard company. A Mastercard spokesperson said in a statement they are deeply shocked and saddened by his death.

“Ryan joined NuData in 2014 and quickly became the face of the business across the regions. He has been a cherished member of the team and will be deeply missed by colleagues right across Mastercard and NuData,” the statement said.

“We extend our most heartfelt sympathies to Ryan’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

A local tech-industry member remembered she saw Elsa Wilk speak about CryptoKitties at a B.C. blockchain event in 2017.

“She was very passionate about the project,” said Rama Ibrahim, co-founder and chief operating officer of Next Decentrum Technologies Inc. and founder of a group called Women in Emerging Tech.

“It’s rare to find a woman talking about blockchain and stuff related to this. It’s a really tiny community in Vancouver.”

The float planes were carrying tourists from the Royal Princess cruise ship when they collided 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.

Ryan Wilk was an American citizen. The other victims were identified as 62-year-old Cassandra Webb and 46-year-old pilot Randy Sullivan, both Americans, and 56-year-old Simon Bodie, an Australian.

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

It’s not known how the planes collided. U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigators are at the site.

Laura Kane, 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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

EKC makes $5,000 donation to Elk Valley ultrasound campaign

The EKC challenged other businesses to help the campaign hit its $300,000 target

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read