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.

Just Posted

Helping our community during COVID-19

A high school student’s perspective

The buoys are back in town

Watershed Wanderings column by Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Invermere council okay with ‘reverse grad march’ idea

Nothing finalized and complications aplenty, but Invermere council agrees to grad march idea

101-year-old man targets 101 block fundraising walk for food bank

A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the food bank.

Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read