Pilot in cargo plane crash had ‘significant level of alcohol in system’: BC Coroner

WATCH: Toxicology tests released by the coroner’s service show the pilot of a  cargo plane that went down in the North Shore mountains just a few months ago – was intoxicated. Catherine Urquhart reports on the findings and the investigation into the cause of the crash.

VANCOUVER – Toxicology results have found one of the pilots on board a cargo plane that crashed in the North Shore Mountains in April with a significant level of alcohol in their system.

Search and rescue crews began a search after a cargo plane and its two-person crew went missing after departing from Vancouver on April 13. The next day the bodies of the two pilots were found, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. The pilot was identified as Robert Brandt, aged 34, and the co-pilot was Kevin Wang, aged 32, both residents of the Vancouver area.

The bodies were tested by the coroners office and determined an alcohol level of 0.24 per cent in Brandt’s system. No other substance were found in his body. For Wang, the co-pilot, investigators found “no drugs or alcohol of relevance” in his system.

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After the release of the toxicology report this afternoon, Carson Air said in a statement that the “news was troubling as it is contrary to our policies and practices” and everyone “was deeply affected by the accident and the loss of our crew.” The statement goes on to say Carson Air has operated for 25 years with an exemplary safety record and will continue to work with staff to ensure their high standards of safe flights, safe aircraft and a safe workplace.

The wreckage was found to the southeast of Crown Mountain peak in the North Shore mountains, at the elevation of about 4,500 feet.

“Our ground crews first came across portions of the wing, then finally the main body, and the tail was later identified,” said Naval Lt. Paul Trenholm of the JRCC, adding the front part was eventually found.

Global News learned the bodies were found in the plane’s cockpit. Both pilots are from Vancouver area, ages 33 and 35. No names have been released.

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Carson Air Flight 66 was supposed to land in Prince George at 8 a.m. Monday but Vancouver Airport Authority says it lost contact with NavCanada’s Kamloops Flight Information Centre at about 7:10 a.m. The plane was at 7,900 feet when it lost contact.

Trenholm said no contact was made with the pilots in the white, Sweringen SA 226 aircraft before it disappeared from radar.

In a statement, Carson Air said:

“Carson Air can confirm that one [of] our regular cargo flights flying out of Vancouver did not land in Prince George as scheduled. Air Traffic Control lost radar contact 10 minutes out of Vancouver in a north-easterly direction near Mt. Seymour Park. At that time the plane was at an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet and appeared to be on a normal profile.

“There was no emergency or mayday call from the pilots.”

North Shore Rescue was doing a grid search in an area of the North Shore mountains this morning, where they smelled fuel and they came across a large field of objects. The search resumed at first light today.

It appears the plane may have experienced some sort of a mechanical problem. There were no voice flight data recorders on board as they are not required on a plane of this size. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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– With files from The Canadian Press

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