Monday’s fatal plane crash near Peachland came almost two years to the day after a similar tragedy that also had a Penticton connection.
One person died and three others were injured Monday afternoon when a Piper PA30 Twin Comanche went down in a wooded area near Brenda Mines west of Peachland. The B.C. Coroners service identified the deceased as Jayson Dallas Wesley Smith, 30, of Vancouver.
Registration letters visible on the plane’s tail section in a news photo of the wreckage match an entry in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Registry. That entry is for a Piper PA30 based in Boundary Bay and co-owned by Rick Zyvitski of Comox and Maplewood Landscaping of Delta.
The twin-engine aircraft involved departed from Penticton Regional Airport and was en route to Boundary Bay on the Lower Mainland when its emergency beacon was activated around 3 p.m., according to Capt. Annie Djiotsa, spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Navy search and rescue team that co-ordinated the initial response.
Djiotsa said the aircraft’s distress signal was detected by a WestJet plane that was in the area, and the first emergency responders parachuted down 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 by helicopter to hospitals in Kelowna and Kamloops.
“When the time is appropriate, we’re … 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 Comanche that went down on Apex Mountain about 15 kilometres southwest of the Penticton airport. The wreckage was found eight days later in rugged terrain.
That flight began 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 B.C. Coroners Service.
It concluded the single-engine plane, which was overloaded when it left Kelowna, was attempting to climb over a ridge 6,500 feet above sea level when it struck trees just below the summit.
The report noted the incident was similar to other nearby crashes 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 said it’s “way too early to start speculating” about what may have caused Monday’s crash, which happened about five km from the site of a float plane crash in May that killed three people.