Three killed in small plane crash near Chilliwack, B.C., airport
October 8, 2023 By Darryl Greer, The Associated Press
CHILLIWACK, B.C. — Three people have been killed in a small plane crash in Chilliwack, B.C.
RCMP said they received a report that a plane had gone down at about 2 p.m. on Friday, not far from the airport in Chilliwack, about 100 kilometres east of Vancouver.
“Police, fire and BC Emergency Health Services responded. Sadly, three people on board are confirmed to be deceased,” the Mounties’ statement said.
The Transportation Safety Board said Friday it is sending a team of investigators to the site in the Fraser Valley to investigate the crash of the Piper PA34.
The coroner is also investigating the crash, police said.
Haylie Morris was at work sitting in a forklift when she saw the plane pass right in front of her.
She said she knew immediately it was much too close to the ground.
“I jumped off the forklift and started running and I saw it go into the forest across the street, crash through the trees, and then the trees blocked me from seeing it hit the hotel, but when I ran over, I saw that it had hit the side of the hotel, or at least just in front of it.”
The plane came down behind the Chilliwack Motor Inn, just south of the airport, she said.
Morris didn’t have her cellphone and said she began yelling for someone to call 911, then she ran toward the crash.
“I was running in that direction, but the trees are just filled with blackberries, so there was a very thick layer of blackberries that we couldn’t get past,” Morris said.
Sgt. Krista Vrolyk with Chilliwack RCMP said first responders ended up using a mattress as they dealt with the bushes while accessing the plane.
The registration number on the plane’s tail, seen in local media photos, indicates the aircraft is owned by SkyQuest Aviation, a flight school based in Langley.
SkyQuest Aviation said in an email statement that it was looking into the crash, but had no comment at this time.
BC Emergency Health Services said five ambulances were sent to the scene and two air ambulance helicopters were deployed but turned back. No patients were taken to hospital, the agency said in a statement.
Morris said she watched first responders head to the crash site in the wrong direction before she and a co-worker pointed them the right way.
There is a lot of aircraft activity in the area because it’s so close to the Chilliwack airport, she added.
Morris said she was shaken by what she saw.
“I don’t think I’ve ran that fast or had my heart beating that fast in a while.”