Witnesses looked on as a float plane crashed into Cowichan Lake about 100 feet offshore near the mouth of Ashburnham Creek Friday afternoon around 1 p.m.
Honeymoon Bay Fire Rescue chief Raymond Wear said the pilot was “very lucky from the sounds of it,” escaping with just some lacerations.
“The witnesses say he took a pretty heavy thump,” he said.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the agency that investigates plane crashes, said the plane was an amateur-built Zenair 601 on floats.
“The aircraft lost control on touchdown, cartwheeled and eventually sank,” the TSB said. “The pilot got out of the aircraft with minor injuries but was taken to a local hospital for an assessment.”
The TSB is gathering information about the crash but did not send investigators to the site.
Wear said his crew of four arrived at the scene via the water in their vessel, Marine 26. It took them just three minutes to reach the scene as the crash was right near their boat launch site. The pilot was already out of the plane and into a boat.
“The crash was witnessed and the witnesses called 911, and they also called the ambulance, and boaters saw what happened so they went out to assist,” said the chief. “It sounds like there was about three boats out on the water that witnessed it and there was a quick response and a quick recovery by some Good Samaritans.
Wear also noted the boaters tried in vain to recover the aircraft.
“They tried to bring the plane in but as they started to tow it, it started to sink,” he said.
It now sits in about 170 feet of water “a couple hundred feet off shore near Ashburnham Creek”.
Honeymoon Bay Fire Rescue, BC Ambulance, RCMP, Emergency Management BC, and a spill response team were all dispatched.
“We covered our bases,” Wear said.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau confirmed officers were called out to an area near Honeymoon Bay after the crash.
“There was one person aboard and he had minor injuries and is at hospital being treated,” the spokesman said Friday around 3:15 p.m.
Manseau noted “there doesn’t appear to be anything criminal in nature and the Transportation Safety Board has been made aware of the incident and they are not going to attend.”
Manseau said police are hoping to gather more witness accounts and asks those who saw the crash to contact the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment at 250-749-6668.
Meanwhile, he added, RCMP would like for people to please stay out of the area where the plane is.