Plane crashes on Decourcy Drive on Gabriola

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, December 10 2019

According to the Transporation Safety Board of Canada, a Piper PA-60-602P aircraft was on a private/pleasure flight from Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (KBIH) in Bishop, California to Nanaimo Airport, British Columbia (CYCD). While on an instrument approach to Nanaimo Airport, the aircraft collided with terrain on Gabriola Island, British Columbia. All 3 people aboard were fatally injured.

UPDATE on December 13 at 5:41pm from Transportation Safety Board of Canada: 
TSB investigators have completed their work at the accident site of the aircraft that collided with terrain on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, on 10 December 2019. Investigators spent three days documenting the aircraft, interviewing witnesses, and collecting data. The wreckage has been removed from the site and will be securely stored for further analysis over the coming days and weeks.

Next steps

Investigators will classify the accident according to the TSB’s Policy on Occurrence Classification to determine the overall scope of the investigation to follow and to establish a target timeline for completion. Each investigation conducted by the TSB is complex. We take the time necessary to conduct a thorough investigation to advance transportation safety.

Each investigation moves through three phases. The Field Phase involves the collection of evidence from a variety of sources. Once all information is collected, investigators continue to the Examination and Analysis phase to parse through the evidence. The final phase of an investigation is the Report Phase, in which investigators produce a final report for release.

UPDATE on December 13 at 2:49pm from BC Coroners Service: Two males, one female identified as deceased in Gabriola plane crash

Investigators from the BC Coroners Service's special investigations unit have positively identified one of the three decedents involved in the Dec. 10, 2019, plane crash on Gabriola Island and continue to work to confirm the identity of two other decedents.

The BC Coroners Service also continues to investigate the circumstances that led to their deaths.

BC Coroners Service identification specialists, in co-ordination with other agencies, have been gathering information from the scene to establish the identities of the decedents. Based on preliminary information collected at the scene, the deceased are a male in his 60s from Mill Bay, B.C., and two other decedents, one male and one female. Confirming identification of the other two decedents is subject to post-mortem testing results and other investigative work.

Due to the privacy of the deceased, the BC Coroners Service will not be releasing or confirming identity.

On Dec. 10, shortly after 6 p.m., reports of a possible plane crash on Gabriola Island were received by first responders, including BC Emergency Health Services and the Gabriola Island RCMP. The BC Coroners Service was notified once first responders confirmed fatalities.

The BC Coroners Service will not be releasing any further information on the incident at this time and will provide updates once additional details are available.


UPDATE from Transportation Safety Board of Canada at 7pm on December 11:

TSB investigators arrived on scene this afternoon and conducted a preliminary survey of the accident site. The site is currently under the control of the BC Coroners Service and the RCMP.


The aircraft was extensively broken up due to high impact forces. The TSB team was unable to determine precisely the aircraft registration; work will continue tomorrow to verify the registration. The total number of people on board has not been verified and no one on board has been identified.


The TSB has confirmed that the flight was a private/pleasure flight and that the point of departure was Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (KBIH) in Bishop, California and the destination was Nanaimo, British Columbia (CYCD).


The aircraft was in the process of conducting an instrument approach to Runway 16 of Nanaimo Airport when the collision with terrain occurred. TSB on-site investigation activity will continue tomorrow with data collection and site survey.


UPDATE from Transportation Safety Board of Canada at 8:38am on December 11: The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the site of an accident involving a piston twin-engine aircraft on Gabriola Island, British Colombia. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.

The RCMP mobile forensic unit arrived on scene just before 2pm on Wednesday December 11.
Derek Kilbourn photo


UPDATE from Cpl. Chris Manseau at 9pm on December 10: On Tuesday Dec. 10 at approximately 6:30pm reports of a possible plane crash on Gabriola Island was received by the Gabriola RCMP. The BC Coroners Service was notified later in the evening.

Through investigation it was learned that a small plane had crashed on the north-west corner of the Island. RCMP members travelled to the scene and are confirming multiple fatalities from this crash.

Because of the nature of plane crashes, this event will be investigated in partnership with the Transportation Safety Board, who have been notified and will be attending the scene on Dec. 11. The crash scene will be held by the Gabriola RCMP until the arrival of the TSB.

The BC Coroners Service has also been notified of multiple fatalities and is in the preliminary stages of its fact-finding investigation to determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means the deceased came to their sudden, unexpected deaths.



Original content posted:

A plane has reportedly crashed on Gabriola Island on the north side of Decourcy Drive, in what is believed to be the Decourcy Drive Community Park.

Gabriola Emergency Services were on scene. Four additional ambulances from the BC Ambulance Service were loaded on the 6:25 ferry sailing from Nanaimo as well as a BCAS supervisor vehicle.

Police have taped off Decourcy Drive and are not allowing members of the public or media into the scene.

Cpl. Chris Manseau, speaking on behalf of the RCMP said at this time, he does not have any confirmation on how many persons were on the plane, nor if anyone survived the crash.

He was not able to say what kind of plane had gone down.

Witnesses at the scene said there was a low roar shortly before a loud boom sounded through the neighbourhood.

On the water side, the Coast Guard hovercraft and two vessels from the Nanaimo Port Authority were searching the water, though witnesses say the plane impacted on the land.

Manseau said he did not have more information for the incident - but would update the media as soon as he had more information.


CCGH Siyay off the shoreline of Decourcy Drive on Tuesday night
with searchlights trained on the shore.
Derek Kilbourn photo.