The sole survivor of last week's plane crash in Tyaughton Lake is recovering in hospital, according to a statement released by family. The pilot, who has been identified as Williams Lake resident Spencer Neufeld, is on the mend following surgery in Kamloops. He escaped the wreckage and was pulled from the water by bystanders, police said.
"We are grateful that his injuries are non-life threatening. Spencer would like to thank the people who came to his rescue and saved his life after the accident, as well as the staff at Royal Inland Hospital for his continuing care," the Neufeld family said in a statement released through Interior Health. "Our thoughts especially go out to the families of the other people on the plane."
Two others, 20-year-old Michael Hiebert from Prince George and a 29-year-old Aldergrove man, were killed after the plane crashed shortly after takeoff into Tyaughton Lake, also known as Tyax Lake, located 100 kilometres west of Lillooet. The body of the Aldergrove man was recovered from the submerged plane the day after the crash.
Neufeld was flying for Fort Langley Air at the time of the accident. Scott McIntosh, president and owner of the charter and pilot training company, told media that there were two pilots onboard—including Neufeld—and that the aircraft was not being used for a chartered passenger flight.
Reached by phone this week, McIntosh said it was still too early to speculate on the cause of the crash. "We really don't have any details," he said. "Our job right now is just to support the families that have been involved with the tragedy and participate and cooperate with the TSB (Transportation Safety Board), but we really have no information beyond that."
McIntosh declined further comment, saying he had been advised not to speak about the accident beyond what he had already provided to media.
A spokesperson for the TSB said it would likely be months before the investigation is concluded. "At this point, we are still assessing the type of investigation that will be conducted for this accident, so it's a matter of months, for sure," the spokesperson said.
The Lillooet RCMP and BC Coroners Service are also investigating.
In a statement posted on social media, the Canadian Coast Guard's Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria said it was notified of a floatplane-type aircraft "in difficulty" off the shores of Tyaughton Lake at about 1:15 p.m.
Residents in the area may use water drawn from Tyaughton Lake for bathing, watering plants, laundry, etc., but have been advised by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District not to drink water from their intakes. Residents outside the identified area may use their water systems as normal.
Visit slrd.bc.ca to determine if your property is affected by the order.