RCMP Divers Heading to Labrador Lake to Investigate Plane Crash

By Margaret Wollensak
Margaret Wollensak
Margaret Wollensak
July 19, 2019 Updated: July 22, 2019

RCMP are heading to a remote lake in northern Labrador to investigate a plane crash that occurred there on Monday, July 15.

There were seven people on the plane when it crashed—three Canadians and four passengers from the United States. According to the RCMP, the plane left a fishing lodge in Quebec on Monday morning for a remote fishing camp on Mistastin Lake in northern Labrador. It was reported overdue when it failed to return in the evening.

It is currently unknown what caused the floatplane to crash into Mistastin Lake and whether it crashed on its way to the fishing camp or on the way back.

The aircraft was owned by Air Sanguenay, a regional airline from Northern Quebec. The company’s chief executive Jean Tremblay told CBC that the pilot, Gilles Morin, 66, had been flying to and from Mistastin Lake for at least six years.

The bodies of three of the seven men were recovered by the Maritime Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, which handed over the investigation to the RCMP late Tuesday.

The tail and other debris from the plane were spotted in the lake on Tuesday, according to the Canadian Press, and the Maritimes Forces Atlantic scanned the lake and surroundings for survivors.

The RCMP underwater recovery team, Labrador’s general investigation unit, and air services are headed to the area today to investigate the crash and search for the remaining four missing people, according to the RCMP. The teams and their equipment were supposed to move to the remote crash site Thursday, but high winds and heavy rain prevented them from reaching the site, said an RCMP Facebook statement.

Because the area where the plane crashed is in a remote region of Labrador, it is only accessibly by air. It is approximately 100 kilometres southwest of Nain, the nearest place with an airport.

The RCMP said a “team of expert police divers, investigators, and search and rescue personnel” will be involved. Some of the equipment they will be using include side scan sonar and boats, all of which need to be transported by air.

The Mounties provided the following general information on the seven people in the plane:

  1. Pilot: a 66-year-old Quebec man who is still missing;
  2. Fishing Guide: A 50-year-old man from Newfoundland acting as a guide who is still missing;
  3. Fishing Guide: A 47-year-old man from Newfoundland acting as a guide who’s body was recovered;
  4. Passenger:a 67-year-old man from New Jersey whose body was recovered;
  5. Passenger: a 66-year-old man from Illinois whose body was recovered;
  6. Passenger: a 40-year-old man from Indiana who is still missing;
  7. Passenger: a 38-year-old man from Illinois who is still missing.

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) will be investigating the cause of the crash. According to CBC, TSB investigators will travel to the area after the plane is recovered.

“The investigators will look at the aircraft, document what they see, take pictures; they may decide to take a part of the aircraft back to our lab here in Ottawa,” TSB spokesperson Alex Fournier told CBC.

Margaret Wollensak
Margaret Wollensak