B.C. woman killed in Alaska float plane crash along with U.S. husband, friends and family say
Friends and family of the B.C. woman who was killed in Monday’s Alaska float plane crash say her American husband was also killed in the accident.
Elsa and Ryan Wilk were among the six people killed after two floatplanes carrying cruise ship tourists collided near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan.
The pair were passengers on the cruise ship Royal Princess, a Princess Cruises vessel that was on a seven-day trip from Vancouver to Anchorage and left Vancouver on May 11.
The Wilks and 12 other passengers on the two planes were on a sightseeing tour of the Alaskan coast when they crashed in mid-air. Eight others survived.
Alaska state troopers said Tuesday night that Elsa was from Richmond, while Ryan Wilk was from Utah.
On Wednesday, Elsa’s ex-husband Ian Brink said she was originally from South Africa before moving to Canada in 2008 and gaining citizenship in 2013.
Her maiden name is Botha, Brink said, adding the two met in South Africa.
“The people in her inner circle were very special to her,” he told Global News Wednesday. “She was a very genuine person.”
Elsa spent years working as a marketing director for several digital media companies, which Brink and friends said was a passion of hers, along with taekwondo.
“She was a first or second degree black belt,” Brink said. “She was also an academic person, she was always studying and had a hunger for knowledge, and she did her MBA.”
Brianne Rigetti told Global News Elsa was an amazing friend and teammate who competed with her at the 2014 World Cup.
Friends say the couple was living in Richmond at the time of the crash.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Mastercard said Ryan Wilk worked for its NuData Security company based in Vancouver, and confirmed the couple had been killed in the crash.
WATCH: Alaska plane crash: Two more bodies recovered
“Ryan joined NuData in 2014 and quickly became the face of the business across the regions,” the statement read. “He has been a cherished member of the team and will be deeply missed by colleagues right across Mastercard and NuData.”
CBS affiliates in Salt Lake City reported Wednesday the couple were planning to move to a home they purchased in the city but were facing delays, including Elsa’s trouble getting the proper paperwork.
A neighbour to the home said the home was purchased a year ago, and had seen Ryan there recently mowing the lawn, but also suggested the home was getting sold again.
The other victims of the crash were pilot Randy Sullivan, 46, from Ketchikan, Simon Bodie, 56, from Australia and Cassandra Webb, 62, and Louis Botha, 46, all from the continental U.S.
In a statement Wednesday, Taquan Air, which owns the larger of the two planes, said they have resumed their scheduled and charter flights.
On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) provided an update on its investigation into the crash, and said it would have a preliminary report ready in about two weeks.
NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy said interviews with survivors were underway, and investigators had spoken to the surviving pilot.
She added that Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) will also be involved in the investigation, as both planes were manufactured in Canada.
WATCH: (Aired May 14) B.C. woman among 6 dead in Alaskan floatplane crash
NTSB crews also began retrieval of the two aircraft on Wednesday, using a large crane to lift Taquan Air’s de Havilland Otter from the water.
“The Taquan Plane was submerged in about 75 feet [23 metres] of water, and only about 50 feet [15 metres] off the water,” Homendy said.
WATCH: NTSB provides more details about Alaska plane crash after 6 found dead
“The Beaver, the Mountain Air plane, a portion of it is in the water and the floats are visible from there. There is a lot of debris in different areas, including on the mountainside.”
The aircraft will be transported by barge to a secure location in Ketchikan, where investigators will begin to reassemble them on Thursday to try to understand how they collided.
— With files from CBS KUTV and Global News’ Simon Little and Katie Dangerfield
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