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Investigators travel to site of fatal B.C. float plane crash as survivors recover

Pilot may have died in B.C. float plane crash
WATCH: Tributes on social media are pouring in for a pilot who may have died in a float plane crash north of Vancouver Island that killed three other people. Jill Bennett reports.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said Saturday it is deploying an investigation team to the site of a float plane crash north of Vancouver Island that killed four people Friday.

The Cessna 208 plane crashed around 11 a.m. Pacific time on Addenbroke Island, a remote island that lies roughly 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C.

Pilot Al McBain has been identified as one of the four people killed in the crash.

Five other passengers were on board the charter flight, which was heading to Calvert Island.

READ MORE: 4 dead after float plane crashes on small island north of Vancouver Island

Two of the survivors were airlifted to hospital in Vancouver in serious condition after being assessed in Port Hardy. They were initially deemed to be in critical condition.

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Photo of patient being hoisted up to CH-149 Cormorant.
Photo of patient being hoisted up to CH-149 Cormorant. 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron

The three other surviving passengers remain in hospital in Port Hardy in stable condition.

“I was leaving work and I saw ambulances race by on the way to the airport,” said Lilian Meerveld, who lives close to the airport in Port Hardy. “Then, later on, I saw another ambulance heading back. I hope they’re OK.”

WATCH: (Aired July 26) Four people killed in float plane crash off B.C. coast

Four people killed in float plane crash off B.C. coast
Four people killed in float plane crash off B.C. coast

It’s not known whether the pilot is among the dead or injured.

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The TSB said the team is set to arrive at the remote site Sunday and will gather information on what possibly caused the crash.

Crash site on Addenbroke Island taken from CC-115 Buffalo.
Crash site on Addenbroke Island taken from CC-115 Buffalo. 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron

It’s still not known where the plane was flying from or the reason for the flight.

A pin shows the location of Addenbroke Island, approximately 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C.
A pin shows the location of Addenbroke Island, approximately 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C. Google Maps

READ MORE: Fatal northern B.C. plane crash happened 3 hours into mapping flight, says TSB

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Calvert Island is a popular tourist destination in the province, described by Reader’s Digest Canada as “Canada’s Answer to the Caribbean.”

RCMP from Bella Bella, the closest detachment to the crash site, are also investigating the crash but have not yet provided comment Saturday.

The owner of the Cessna, Richmond-based Seair Seaplanes, suspended all flights Friday and said it is co-operating with officials in the investigation.

Flights were later resumed Saturday.

WATCH: (Aired May 15) Canadian victim of Alaska plane crash identified

Canadian victim of Alaska plane crash identified
Canadian victim of Alaska plane crash identified

The company told Global News it expects to release more information later in the weekend after it contacts the victims’ next of kin.

Seair has seen fatal plane crashes before.

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In 2009, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver owned by the company crashed into the waters of Lyall Harbour off Saturna Island after experiencing trouble taking off from there.

READ MORE: Preliminary report into fatal Alaska plane crash prompts calls for new safety measures

Six people, including a Vancouver doctor and her six-month-old daughter, drowned inside the aircraft. The pilot and one passenger survived with serious injuries.

After an investigation, the TSB found both survivors were unable to find life vests, only avoiding drowning by grabbing onto nearby boat bumpers.

None of the passengers who died were able to find life vests either, the TSB report released in 2011 added.

READ MORE: Canadian pilot among 5 killed in private plane crash in Honduras

Investigators made recommendations focused on making it easier for passengers to escape a sinking plane, and for passengers to wear personal flotation devices during flight.

Officials with the Royal Canadian Air Force said Friday’s crash happened on land.

Video from the crash scene released by the 19 Wing Comox Air Force base showed the wreckage of the plane within a sea of trees on the island.

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According to the base, the video was taken Friday by 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron and shows two search and rescue workers leaping from a helicopter into the water.

SAR technician being hoisted down from CH-149 Cormorant.
SAR technician being hoisted down from CH-149 Cormorant. 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron

Those workers were then taken by a Coast Guard vessel to the lighthouse on the island, where another helicopter took them close to the crash site.