Dad and son killed in B.C. plane crash described as generous, brave
Published Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:15PM PST
Last Updated Sunday, December 15, 2013 6:23PM PST
The father and son killed in a plane crash near Tofino are being described as adventurous businessmen and generous residents in their small town of Picture Butte, Alta.
Jurrie and Mike Vandenberg’s plane went missing at around 3:30 p.m. Saturday over Vargas Island, northwest of Tofino, where the pair was heading for a fishing trip.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said their bodies and the wreckage of the twin-engine Cessna 421 B were found Sunday morning.
According to RCMP, the 25-year-old son was piloting the aircraft at the time, while his 51-year-old father was the solo passenger.
"A dedicated businessman, father, husband, a heart of gold because every time this community had a problem... Jurrie will be one of the first one to bring in his loaders and trucks and dig us out of the snow," said Wendy Jones, mayor of Picture Butte. She described his son Mike as "a very respectuful young man."
Residents of the rural town, population 1,700, are reeling from the loss.
"Most of the people in the community are still pretty much in total shock," she said.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Joe Watson, a local councillor who knew the pair. “[Jurrie] is a well-known man in the community; he’s generous in donating to causes in the community.”
Watson said Jurrie operated a fairly large feedlot business and had many employees.
“I think Jurrie himself, and Michael, the kid, were very adventuresome in their business dealings,” he said. “Not afraid to try anything…to think out of the box a little bit. Jurrie and some of his business ventures, I would say, were very courageous.”
Flight plan data shows the flight originated from Lethbridge and was heading to Tofino after an earlier stop in Abbotsford, according to Tofino RCMP.
Visibility was poor Saturday evening due to foggy conditions. The search was suspended and resumed Sunday morning.
The wreckage was discovered by an air force detachment from Canadian Forces Base Comox.
The aircraft was found in a boggy area surrounded by a large crater, prompting investigators to believe there was a high-speed impact and an explosion.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Officials have yet to confirmed the identities of the two men killed.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Jonathan Woodward and The Canadian Press