Monday’s fatal plane crash near Peachland came almost two years to the day after a similar tragedy that also originated in Penticton.
One person died and three others were injured Monday afternoon when a Piper PA30 Commanche went down in the rugged Brenda Mines area west of Peachland. The victims’ names had not been released as of Tuesday morning.
The twin-engine aircraft departed from Penticton Regional Airport and was en route to Boundary Bay on the Lower Mainland when its distress beacon was activated around 3 p.m., according to Annie Djiotsa, spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Navy Search and Rescue team, which co-ordinated the initial response.
Djiotsa said the Commanche’s distress signal was first detected by a WestJet plane that was in the area, and the first emergency responders parachuted down from a rescue helicopter to the scene around 5 p.m. Local rescue workers joined the effort soon after, and the survivors, two women and one man, were flown to regional hospitals.
“When the time is appropriate, we’re also going to interview the people who survived to look for clues about what happened,” said John Cottreau, a spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board, which sent two investigators to the site.
The TSB also investigated the circumstances surrounding the Aug. 17, 2010 crash of a Piper PA24 Commanche that went down near Apex Mountain about 15 kilometres southwest of the Penticton airport. The wreckage was found eight days later in rugged terrain.
That flight originated in Kelowna and made a stop in Penticton, where two duffel bags of unknown weight were offloaded, before it resumed its trip to Victoria, according to a TSB report later sent to the BC Coroners Service.
It concluded the single-engine plane, which was overloaded when it left Kelowna, was attempting to climb to clear a ridge at 6,500 feet above sea level when it struck trees just below the summit.
The report noted the incident was similar to other crashes nearby when pilots inexperienced with mountain flying and “unfamiliar with the effects of high temperature and high density on aircraft performance, put themselves in a situation where rising terrain in the flight path exceeds the climb capability of the aircraft under the prevailing ambient conditions.”
Cottreau could not say if similar factors may have been involved in Monday’s crash.
“Way too early to start speculating about a cause right now,” he said.