B.C. plane crash kills Kiewit staff enroute to 196-MW East Toba-Montrose

The Nov. 16 crash of a Pacific Coastal Airlines charter flight killed the pilot and six employees of Peter Kiewit Sons Co., construction contractor for the 196-MW East Toba River and Montrose Creek hydroelectric project in British Columbia. One Kiewit employee survived.

The 60-year-old Grumman Goose float plane was flying in dense fog from Port Hardy, B.C., to the site of the project, being developed by Plutonic Power Corp., when it crashed into a hillside on Thormanby Island, about 90 kilometers northwest of Vancouver. Terrain and foggy weather prevented rescuers from reaching the site until Nov. 17.

It took the badly burned lone survivor an estimated two hours to climb down from the crash site before he was able to meet up with search crews, according to Coast Guard officials. Reports identified the survivor as Tom Wilson, a manager for Kiewit.

Crews �are reporting significant debris in the area,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. �At this time, the team can confirm that there are no further survivors of the crash.�

The cause of the crash was unknown, but airline officials told local media the pilot was very experienced and the aircraft was in good mechanical condition. It was the second fatal crash of a Pacific Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose in three months.

Kiewit is operating a 300-man construction camp at the site of East Toba-Montrose. The contractor mobilized a team of grief counselors at the project camp, which was shut down temporarily.

Plutonic expressed support for Kiewit and its employee families.

�Throughout the day yesterday and into the night, Plutonic Power supported Peter Kiewit Sons Co. while their staff came to grips with the situation and began the process of notifying and offering support directly to the families of those involved in the crash,� a Plutonic statement said Nov. 17.

Plutonic and its financial backer, GE Energy Financial Services, reported Oct. 31 that the project is one-third complete, on budget, and on schedule heading into the winter season. (HNN 11/7/08) The project features two developments, 123-MW East Toba River and 73-MW Montrose Creek.

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