Vancouver Island First Nations call for review after 2nd floatplane crash in Tofino
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which represents 14 First Nations in B.C., is calling on the Transportation Safety Board to review conditions in Tofino Harbour, following two recent floatplane crashes.
Both crashes occurred within the last three months, with the most recent crash taking place on Monday when a floatplane flipped and clipped the edge of a Ahousaht water taxi.
No one was seriously injured in the crash, partly due to the heroic efforts of Ahousaht First Nation member Kenney Brown, who rushed to the scene and pulled four people from the frigid Pacific waters.
The incident follows another floatplane crash that occurred in Tofino's harbour in late July.
In that crash, all five people aboard the plane were able to escape with minor injuries after the plane flipped on a sandbar.
With two floatplane crashes occurring within nearly as many months, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) says it's time that the Transportation Safety Board reviewed the policies put in place in Tofino Harbour before another incident occurs.
"We call on Transport Canada as a priority, to review the laws, regulations and policies that regulate Tofino Harbour and make changes to ensure a safer harbour," said NTC president Judith Sayers in a statement Thursday.
"We cannot wait for the Transportation Safety Board to make recommendations. It is a very busy harbour with many floatplanes, water taxis, fishing boats, and other vessels that use this harbour," she said. "I was in the first floatplane accident and if it was not for the quick actions of my son, Cole Sayers, I could have drowned. I cannot thank him enough."
She adds that two more NTC employees were endangered in the most recent crash.
One witness of Monday's floatplane crash told CTV News that he thought he was watching a tragedy unfold when the plane scraped by the water taxi.
"One of my good friends drives the boat. I thought I was witnessing my friend die in front of me," said witness, Floyd Campbell Jr., on Tuesday.
The Transportation Safety Board says all passengers and the pilot of the floatplane in Monday's crash received minor injuries, as well as one passenger aboard the water taxi.
The NTC says it's aware that floatplanes are vital for transportation needs for everyone who lives in Tofino.
It's one of the reasons why the tribal council is calling on the federal government to perform a review as soon as possible.
"The airlines operating out of Tofino, which are heavily used by Nuuchah-nulth, need to ensure that all safety measures are taken to ensure this does not happen again," said NTC vice-president, Mariah Charleson.
"Transport Canada must also play a role in ensuring laws and regulations are in place to prevent these serious incidents."
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