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

Kelowna’s Gallagher’s Canyon announced as course participating in BC Golfathon for ALS

The initiative raises awareness and funds for the ALS Society of BC

Flair Airlines adds Kelowna to new summer schedule

Flair will be delaying the launch of service into Ottawa and Atlantic Canada

Kelowna Art Gallery offers free admission for June

The gallery reopened its doors with restrictions on June 2

One person taken to hospital after house fire in West Kelowna

The incident occurred at the 700 block of Westbrook Road at 7:23 p.m. on June 2

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

UBC announces downtown Kelowna campus

Construction not anticipated to begin for two years, due to zoning processes

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Titanic fails to successfully cross Atlantic a second time

I can hold her in my two hands. She is tiny and… Continue reading

Osoyoos man arrested, charged with possession of child pornography

Shawn Barry Titus, 37, was arrested at a motel in Osoyoos on May 21

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Most Read