Pilot, two passengers unaccounted for in float plane crash north of Port Hardy, BC.

A pilot missing and presumed dead along with two passengers after their float plane crashed north of Port Hardy is being remembered by his employer as exceptionally skilled and smart.

Patrick Lehman was transporting two workers from a logging camp in the Mount Waddington area on B.C.’s Central Coast back to Port Hardy when the Cessna A185E suddenly went down into the waters of Strachan Bay, about 49 kilometres northwest of Port Hardy.

Witnesses reported that they saw the float plane crash into the bay around 12:52 p.m., shortly after take-off, according to MARPAC Public Affairs Victoria.

Within minutes, first responders were on scene including a CH-149 Cormorant, Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, Transport Canada 951 and a lifeboat from the Coast Guard’s Port Hardy station.

The Coast Guard helicopter spotted an oil slick and debris on the water, and Transport Canada later used an infrared sensor to scan the water.

Search and Rescue technicians were then lowered to the lifeboat to assess the situation up close but it was determined that it was too late for any extraction effort, which was “beyond the capability of the team on scene” said MARPAC Public Affairs Officer Lt. Chelsea Dubeau.


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