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

Campbell River RCMP describe violent incident as ‘disturbing event’

Skatepark incident described by RCMP as ‘violence for violence[’s] sake’

North Island area timber supply under review

Review will inform annual cut for the next ten years

Campbell River homelessness groups prepare for winter in a pandemic

Winter presents unique challenges to people experiencing homelessness this year

The secret life of tadpoles

Vancouver Island photographer Maxwel Hohn’s documentary traces the ‘big little migration’ of western toad tadpoles

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

One person dead in two-vehicle accident in North Island

Highway 19A was closed for several hours north of Courtenay following the crash

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

Most Read