TOFINO, B.C. – An Alberta father and his adult son on their way to meet friends were identified Sunday as the victims of a fatal plane crash on Vancouver Island, just minutes from their destination.
The men were found in the wreckage of the small aircraft that went down near Tofino.
A friend identified the men as Jurrie Van Den Berg, 51, and his son Mike, 25, from the town of Picture Butte, just outside of Lethbridge, Alta. Mike was an avid pilot, said Craig Sosick.
They were “both very good guys, hardworking, dedicated, all-around very good businessmen,” Sosick said.
Jurrie Van Den Berg owned a local business called Porcupine Corral Cleaning Ltd., and a lot of people are devastated by the loss, he said.
The men were found at the crash scene of the twin-engine Cessna 421 B on an uninhabited island five kilometres west of Tofino, on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.
Cpl. Ray Jacobson of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said Mike Van Den Berg was piloting the aircraft at the time, while his father was a passenger on the plane.
The aircraft was privately registered, said Glenn Friesen of the Transportation Safety Board.
Cpl. Frank Flock said it’s believed the plane went down Saturday afternoon, when it disappeared off radar around Vargas Island.
The plane left Abbotsford International Airport at 1:31 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Tofino airport at 3:01 p.m., according to flight data available online.
Visibility was poor Saturday evening due to foggy conditions. The search was suspended Saturday evening and resumed Sunday morning.
The wreckage was discovered by an air force detachment from Canadian Forces Base Comox.
The aircraft, which was heading from Alberta to Tofino, with the stop in Abbotsford, was found in a boggy area surrounded by a large crater, prompting investigators to believe there was a high-speed impact and an explosion.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.