Saturday, March 29, 2008

Five months to the day he died in a plane crash, son crashes and dies


Five dead in Alta. plane crash, cause not yet known

Officials investigate the scene where a Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed, claiming five lives en route to Winnipeg from Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2008.

Officials investigate the scene where a Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed, claiming five lives en route to Winnipeg from Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2008.

Reagan Williams in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Reagan Williams in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Rhonda Quirke in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

Phil Allard in an undated photo from A.D. Williams Engineering Inc.

CTV.ca News

Updated: Sat. Mar. 29 2008 8:32 AM ET

Five months to the day after the founder and CEO of an Edmonton engineering company died in a plane crash, the son who replaced him at the firm, along with four others, died when their aircraft crashed in Alberta Friday morning.

Reagan Williams, president of A.D. Williams Engineering Inc., was killed along with two senior staff and two passengers, when the company's Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft went down 12 kilometres northeast of Wainwright, in Battle River valley.

Company spokeswoman Sue O'Connor identified the two company staff as Phil Allard, CFO, and Rhonda Quirke, director of business integration and strategy.

The two other men have not been identified. The company said it would release more information over the weekend.

O'Connor said that Williams, 41, and father of one, was the pilot of the single-engine plane.

Williams' father, Allen Williams, died when the Cessna 172 aircraft he was flying crashed near Golden, B.C. in October 2007.

Also killed in that crash was the company's CFO, Steve Sutton. Amazingly, Williams' three-year-old granddaughter, Kate Williams, survived that crash with only cuts and bruises.

Dubbed 'Super Kate,' the girl's story made national headlines. After hanging upside down in a car seat in the crashed plane for five hours, her first motion to rescuers was to reach for her beloved stuffed penguin, Pablo.

Kate was Reagan's niece.

Crash details coming in

The aircraft took off from Edmonton Friday at about 7:30 a.m. local time en route to Winnipeg.

Air traffic control in Edmonton saw the plane behaving erratically on radar and contacted the pilot, who said the plane had technical problems.

Air traffic control then watched the plane rapidly descend on radar right before it disappeared at about 8:15 a.m.

The wreckage was discovered in dense bush around 12 p.m. by a Griffon helicopter operated out of CFB Cold Lake.

The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash and is on scene. Some trees have been cleared to assist in the operation.

The search and rescue operation was co-ordinated out of CFB Trenton and involved both military and RCMP personnel.

Capt. Nicole Meszaros, spokesperson for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, told CTV Newsnet earlier Friday afternoon that the airplane debris was spread over a 1.5 kilometre range.

Company confronting tragedy

O'Connor told CTV Edmonton that the most recent tragedy is hard to comprehend.

"It's obviously incredibly difficult and impossible to imagine," she said. "(Our staff) is coming together. The company will be sourcing grief counselling for the staff but at this time everyone is still in shock."

O'Connor said Naseem Bashir, the firm's vice-president, was travelling to Edmonton from Calgary to take control.

The company's website said they own the plane because it "allows our project teams to reach project sites in a timely and cost-effective manner, outside of the restrictions of commercial airline schedules."

The site adds, the plane "is of great benefit for remote sites, and in situations when timely access to a city or project site is critical."

With a report from CTV Edmonton and The Canadian Press

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