John Young is bruised and battered, still trying to make sense of how he survived a horrible air crash that claimed two victims in a remote area near Gold River.
Young, a Nanaimo resident, is one of five hikers who were being whisked out of the wilderness by a float plane when it crashed in poor weather on the west side of Vancouver Island. The pilot and one hiker perished, Young and another hiker were injured, and two hikers managed to walk away from the fatal accident.
Young, seated in front beside the pilot, said the fire started in the front of the plane. He said the two people who survived with only minor injuries were seated in the rear of the plane.
"It was very foggy and drizzling. Because of the low cloud ceiling, we didn't head directly to Gold River from Hesquiat Lake," Young told Global News from his hospital bed in Victoria General Hospital. "We went south and across Hesquiat Peninsula," "We started to go down, and the pilot said, 'Mayday - we are going down.' "I saw a tree looming and the wing must have hit the tree."
Young did his best to help out his fellow passengers, despite his own serious injuries - a shattered sternum, broken ribs, broken clavicle, and third-degree burns to his legs.
"We hit the ground, I could hear people moaning, and the pilot was yelling 'Open the doors, open the doors!'" "Ten seconds after we hit the ground, there was a puff of flame in front of me. I couldn't get the door open beside me ... I could see that the pilot door swung open, so I started to crawl over there."
"The person behind me reached for the alarm button on the dash, and then his hand stopped moving. I figured he must have died."
Young saved himself, then tried to save others.
"I pulled and pulled and couldn't get loose, then I stopped pulling and squirmed, and I got out of the plane."
"I could hear one of the women on the other side screaming to help her, and I went around; one hand was out, there were flames around her, I grabbed and pulled her, and she couldn't move. Then I got her out, but she was in pretty bad shape, her pants had melted on her."
"The pilot was there and he had one hand reaching out, I pulled, and brought him a little bit out, but I couldn't get him out any more. He died."
"I met up with the other hiker and the two that weren't hurt, got us all together and kept us warm, and the rescue helicopters found us."
Transportation Safety Board investigators are expected to arrive today at the crash site to determine the cause of the crash.
The Victoria Times Colonist reported that the two people who were flown to hospital with serious injuries after the crash near Tofino were in stable condition, the Vancouver Island Health Authority said Saturday.
Bodies of the deceased were recovered Saturday despite poor weather conditions that delayed investigators early in the day. One of those killed in the crash was identified by the CBC as Charles Turner, of Comox. Turner was an experienced hiker and mountaineer.
Rather than flying to the site, officials were forced to travel by land.
"It's about 60 kilometres from Tofino, most of which is on logging roads and then there's a bit of a hike in. "We utilized some ATVs to get the crews in this morning," RCMP spokesman Darren Lagan said Saturday.
/ Six people - the pilot and five hikers - were on the float plane when it crashed about 11 a.m. Friday near Hesquiat Lake.;
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