Man dies in Pitt Lake plane crash

Another was saved by boater, taken to hospital, then released.

A coast guard dive team returns a body to the Grant Narrows Regional Park dock area Monday afternoon after a plane crashed into Pitt Lake The plane would be retrieved later.

A 71-year-old flying instructor from Surrey is dead, while his 55-year-old passenger was treated in hospital following a float plane crash on Pitt Lake, Monday.

Police said the two were in a Pacific Rim Aviation Academy Cessna 172 float plane from Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.

The plane flipped over on the lake at about 4:30 p.m. during stormy conditions.

“They were carrying out touch-and-go landings for training. During the sixth touch-and-go the aircraft tipped over,” said Bill Yearwood, with the Transportation Safety Board.

“The student was able to get out, but tragically the instructor was not.”

Yearwood said when a plane over turns in water it can be challenging even for an uninjured person to get out. Many people have died in such instances, he added.

“It is a risk when an aircraft upsets and submerges.

“The student made an attempt to help the instructor, but the aircraft was filling up with water fast. He was unable to help him.”

About an hour later, a passing boater rescued the student, who had been sitting on the plane’s pontoons.

Yearwood pointed out that both were wearing lifejackets.

“There’s no information to suggest any medical issues.”

The coroner will determine cause of death, whether from injuries caused in the accident or from drowning or both.

Weather conditions were challenging at the time incident. “The winds strong and gusty.”

Yearwood said another pilot in the area at the time returned to the airport because of the strong winds.

Canadian Coast Guard brought its hovercraft to the south end of Pitt Lake while members of the RCMP and Coast Guard dive teams went to the accident site and retrieved the body at about 6:30 p.m.

The student pilot was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, then released that night and interviewed Tuesday by Transportation Safety Board staff.

The wreck of the plane was barged down the Pitt and Fraser rivers Tuesday to the Pitt Meadows airport so that TSB staff could inspect it today.

Tom Drybrough with Island Coastal Aviation, was also instructing at Pitt Lake that afternoon.

The lesson ended about 3:30 p.m., but the weather was starting to close in, said Drybrough.

Conditions were getting turbulent, “but there was nothing out there that was abnormal.”

• See video.

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