One year after tragic plane crash on Gabriola, trees planted in memory of the three victims

Residents of DeCourcy Drive

Thursday, December 10 2020

December 10th is the first anniversary since the tragic plane crash on Gabriola that shook our island community and claimed three beautiful lives: Alex Bahlsen, and Katheryn and Allan Boudreau, all from Vancouver Island. 

They were on route home from a vacation in Mexico, when something went terribly wrong during the last leg of their flight, close to 6pm.

The Piper Aerostar was in trouble, and Gabriolans near enough to those foggy skies that night could hear that something was wrong by the intense sound of the engine getting louder and seemingly faster and closer, ending in a powerful impact with the earth. 

It narrowly missed one residence on DeCourcy, taking down tree limbs, and crashed into DeCourcy Drive Community Park, which is also bordered by another residence.

Neighbours who were home that fateful night – and there were many – have recounted how their houses shook with the unforgettable force of impact, many immediately reacted with 911 calls while others began searching the darkness. Some were also eyewitnesses. Police, paramedics, and firefighters arrived within minutes.   

Since the crash, the RDN has been maintaining the site, cleaning-up most of the remaining debris, trimming trees and filling the scarred landscape with naturally amended soil.

The neighbours have been working with Mark Dobbs, Superintendent of RDN Parks Operations & Capital Projects, and three native trees have been acquired, with the cost of the trees donated by the RDN.

Gabriolan Steve Rhicard (Steve’s Backhoe), a contractor for RDN, prepared the planting location and neighbours to the crash site will plant the trees on or about Dec. 10.

The three trees chosen are a Douglas Fir, a Shore Pine and a Sitka Spruce.  

It will be a quiet, caring way to honour the three who perished on that awful night.  

Due to Covid precautions these days, there will be no large gathering at the site.

Staff from the Regional District of Nanaimo said, "RDN Parks is providing three native-species trees to help reforest the site. RDN staff delivered the trees to the site on Thursday, December 3. Neighbours of the park have agreed to water the trees next summer to help ensure they establish."