Bystanders waded into the water to rescue the occupants of a small plane that crashed about 30 metres from shore near Royston on Saturday afternoon.
Ken Heinrich said he didn’t see anybody when he looked in the plane, which was upside down in waist-deep water. “So, I started pounding on the side and hollering if anybody could hear me and then after a few pounds, I heard a voice, which was a huge relief,” he told CHEK News.
Two people — the pilot and a passenger — were on board the 1968 Piper PA-28-140 when it crashed. They were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The two had likely ventured to the Comox Valley to see the sights, said Ray Henault, vice-president of the Courtenay Airpark Association.
The plane was headed for Pitt Meadows.
Such pleasure flights are “quite common” in the area, Henault said. He said several aircraft were in and out of the area Saturday because of the beautiful weather.
“There were probably half a dozen aircraft on the field and going in or out about the time that [the pilot] landed.”
He said the plane stopped at the airpark for a couple of hours before leaving.
“I know that they started up around 20 after three and took off around 3:30.”
Rick Simmonds said the occupants of the plane told him they had experienced some kind of issue over Denman Island.
“They just said they’d run into problems over Denman Island,” he told CHEK. “They’d left the airpark and were trying to turn around and get back to the Courtenay Airpark so that they could get the plane looked at but this is as far as they got.”
Henault said they were about six kilometres from the airpark when the plane went down, Henault said, adding that Royston is on the air-traffic route for the airpark.
“So if you’re taking off or landing, you’re going to go by Royston one way or the other.”
According to Transport Canada, the 1968 Piper PA-28-140 is based in Pitt Meadows and registered to William Vong in New Westminster.
The Transportation Safety Board has been in touch with local officials.