A Saskatchewan athlete with a “zest for life” has been identified as one of three men killed when a small plane crashed near Medicine Hat, Alta., on Saturday night.
Justin Filteau was on his way back to Moose Jaw after a celebration with friends when the plane he was on crashed, his mother, Nancy Filteau, told Global News.
WATCH: RCMP along with other emergency responders could be seen near the scene of a plane crash that claimed the lives of three people near Medicine Hat, Alta.
Three people were killed when a small plane crashed near Irvine, Alta., at about 10:40 p.m. on Saturday night, officials have confirmed.
“It’s quite a shock, to say the least,” Nancy Filteau said, adding that two other men were killed along with her youngest son.
“He was 26 years old and full of zing, vigour and everything else, so it’s come as quite a shock.”
The plane took off from Medicine Hat at around 10:15 p.m. Saturday evening and was headed for Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan. When the aircraft didn’t arrive at its destination about after what should have been an hour and a half flight, a search was launched. RCMP said when they located the plane, there were no survivors.
Nancy said her son was well-loved in many organizations and groups, as he was involved with countless sports organizations and teams, as well as an avid community volunteer.
“He was enthusiastic for life. He loved people… He enjoyed giving back.”
Justin was a player and a coach on several teams, including the Saskatoon Valkyries. Justin was headed back to be part of the coaching team for the Valkyries’ Sunday night game when he died. The team held a moment of silence during the game in his memory.
Justin also volunteered his time with the group Be More than a Bystander — a group that stands up against violence against women.
Nancy said her son endured bullying in grade school, and as he grew up and made connections with good friends and found his way, those experiences helped shape the man he became.
“I think he turned out to be a wonderful… person who gave back and was always rooting for the underdog and always believed that you could set your goals high and you just have to work really hard to achieve them,” she said.
Speaking with Global News on Sunday, Football Saskatchewan executive director Jeff Yausie called Justin a “pretty neat young man” when talking about the various contributions the player and coach made to the football community.
“We’re very tight-knit,” he said, calling Justin a friend as well as a colleague. “I’ve received messages from all over Saskatchewan.
“For a young man that’s 26 years old, he embodied selflessness and volunteerism.”
Emergency responders from Medicine Hat, Halo Helicopter and RCMP helped with locating the downed plane.
Global News has learned the identities of the other two victims. We spoke with the son of the pilot who confirmed his father and his fiancee’s father were both killed in the crash. But the families have asked Global News not to report their names as they plan their loved ones funerals.
According to Chris Krepski with the Transportation Safety Board, the plane “collided with terrain” about 10 to 20 minutes after it took off from Medicine Hat. It wasn’t known as of Sunday at 2 p.m. what the plane crashed into or what caused the incident.
The aircraft, a single-engine, low-wing American Aviation AA Dash 5B, is not required to have a data or flight recorder on board, Krepski said, however, investigators will look for anything on board that may provide details on what caused the crash. He said it was too early to tell if weather was a factor.
A team of investigators from the TSB was expected to arrive at the scene late Sunday afternoon to gather information and assess the plane.
Krepski said the model of aircraft that crashed typically seats four people, but only three were on board.
As of 1 p.m., several emergency crews could be seen on outside the scene, including RCMP and search crews.
According to residents of the town of Irvine, a military plane could be seen flying low over the area on Sunday morning, and objects could be seen being parachuted from the plane.
RCMP said the investigation has been handed over to Transport Canada.