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Toronto resident dies in plane crash near Que. border

March 9, 2011 – A Toronto real estate developer known for his work restoring heritage buildings has been identified as the victim of a plane crash Monday in a remote snow-bound corner of Maine.


March 9, 2011
By Alexandra Posadzki in Toronto and John Lewandowski in Halifax

March 9, 2011 – A Toronto real estate developer known for his
work restoring heritage buildings has been identified as the victim
of a plane crash Monday in a remote snow-bound corner of Maine.

Paul Oberman, 53, was returning from a personal trip to Halifax
when the four-seat plane crashed, a friend of the family confirmed
Tuesday.

Rescue officials say another person on board was airlifted to
hospital in Quebec City.

Oberman was known for restoring Toronto's iconic Gooderham
Flatiron Building, the Summerhill train station as a large liquor
store and the shops at Scrivener Square.

Bonnie Hillman, a friend of Oberman for about five years, said
Tuesday he was a "passionate city builder" who had "impeccable
taste."

Oberman was a devoted husband and father to six children, Hillman
said.

He and his wife, who also worked in real estate, were known for
the elegant parties held at their comfortable Toronto home, which is
decorated with a substantial art collection, Hillman said.

"He loved interesting conversations and interesting people,"
said Hillman.

"He and his wife were incredibly generous and wonderful hosts."

Although Oberman, an avid adventurer, had a pilot's licence,
Hillman was unable to confirm whether he was flying the plane prior
to the crash.

Law enforcement officials were forced Tuesday to use snowmobiles
and snowshoes to plow through snow that was almost two metres deep
to reach the wreckage, near Depot Lake, about 18 kilometres from the
Daaquam border crossing to Canada.

"Weather played a huge role, probably in the crash, but also in
the search efforts that followed," said Steve McCausland of the
Marine Public Safety Dept.

"There was heavy snow cover to begin with, and then this fresh
stuff on top of it."

McCausland said wardens and state police were able to drive to
within 13 kilometres of the crash site guided by co-ordinates from
the Canadian military.

Oberman's body was transported to Augusta for an autopsy by
mid-morning.

"This is probably one of the most remote sections in the state
of Maine," said McCausland. "This is so deep in the Maine woods
there is no chance that anyone is going to disturb the site."

Rescue officials say the Diamond DA-40 was en route from Halifax
to Quebec on Monday when the pilot radioed that his plane was icing
up and that he was going to try to land at a local airstrip.

A Cormorant helicopter and a Hercules fixed-wing were dispatched
from CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia after voice contact was lost.

It was dark by the time the chopper arrived on scene, but a
spokesman for the Halifax-based Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre
said the crew was able to zero in on the plane's emergency
transponder beacon.

"They were able to pick up one survivor and transport him to
hospital in Quebec City," said Maj. Denis McGuire.

He said the Cormorant lowered a couple of rescue technicians to
the ground to assist the survivor.

There was no word Tuesday on the condition of the unnamed
survivor.

The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the crash
investigation.

Funeral arrangements for Oberman are expected to be announced
Wednesday.

By Tuesday evening, a Facebook page called "In Memory of Paul
Oberman" had more than 50 members, many of whom sent their
condolences to the family.

"We have not lost a heritage soldier, we have lost our General
MacArthur," wrote one user.

"Fond memories of working with him on Summerhill," wrote
another. "A creative, tireless mind and a huge heart. He will be
missed."