37-year-old B.C. woman among 6 killed in Alaskan floatplane crash
CTV News Vancouver
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019 7:54AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 15, 2019 7:17AM PDT
Officials have confirmed one of the people killed after two floatplanes collided midair in Alaska on Monday is a Canadian citizen.
Both of the planes were carrying passengers from a cruise ship that departed from Vancouver over the weekend. The crash killed six people and left several others in hospital.
- Read more: What we know about the victims so far
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told CTV News one of the deceased is Canadian, but would not provide any further details about the victim's identity for privacy reasons.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and loved ones of the Canadian citizen who died in Alaska," a spokesperson said in an email.
"Canadian consular officials in Seattle are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and stand ready to provide consular assistance as required."
However, U.S. officials later identified her as Elsa Wilk, a 37-year-old Richmond, B.C. woman. Family friends later told CTV News Vancouver she'd most recently been living in Port Coquitlam.
Her husband, 39-year-old Ryan Wilk, also died in the crash.
The cruise passengers involved in the crash were in the middle of a seven-day voyage through Princess Cruises. The company said a total of 14 guests were on board the two planes when they collided off Ketchikan, a small city frequented by cruise ships.
Ten of the passengers were on an aircraft operated by Taquan Air, and purchased their tickets on the excursion through Princess Cruises. The other four were on an independent flight tour, according to the cruise company.
Taquan Air suspended operations following the crash.
"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families," it said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Ketchikan officials confirmed four bodies had been recovered since the crash, and that crews were still searching for two remaining passengers.
The bodies of those two final passengers were located later on Tuesday.
The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad was one of the first groups on scene, and described people as relatively calm.
"Obviously, we had some injuries - broken bones, lacerations, back injuries, but everybody was reasonably calm," Jeffery Kiffer, with the search group, told a news conference Tuesday.
Kiffer said Good Samaritans were first on the scene and had pulled several of the floatplane passengers out of the water by the time they had arrived.
The debris field was about 300 metres wide and 800 metres long, with doors, seats and life-jackets strewn in a way that indicated an aircraft had come apart in the air, he added.
Kiffer said the group had completed their ground search and would be determining a course of action of how to proceed.
According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, preliminary data shows the Taquan floatplane descended several hundred feet before the collision occurred.
"We've requested records on the planes and it is something we will look at," said Jennifer Homendy, a board member with the NTSB.
"Our community is heartbroken over this tragedy and its devastating impacts on so many families," Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Landis said in a statement. "There has been a tremendous outpouring of compassion and support from everywhere in the community, and we offer sincere gratitude to all those who are responding to the crashes."
Of the survivors, four were stabilized in local hospital and airlifted to Seattle for further treatment. Another six remain in Alaska in what health officials described as fair condition.
Search crews say they expect to recover the wreckage on Wednesday.