Clear weather and “a split-second glimpse of something” that didn’t belong among the trees led to the discovery of a plane that went missing last November in southeastern B.C., says a critical care paramedic who spotted the wreckage.
Randy McLeod and a crew were flying overhead in an ambulance service helicopter on Monday after responding to a motor vehicle incident near the community of Field.
“We didn’t have a passenger on board,” he said Tuesday. “Because of the weather, we were flying fairly low to the Rogers Pass at about 1,000 feet above the Trans Canada Highway.”
McLeod said regular discussions among the crew about the plane that vanished last Nov. 25 with two people on board sparked his curiosity when he saw something suspicious down below.
He said it took a few passes over the area to find what he had originally spotted and he took photos that were sent to the RCMP in Revelstoke.
Mounties positively identified the white and burgundy aircraft carrying 28-year-old pilot Dominic Neron and his 31-year-old girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault, who were on their way to Edmonton from Penticton when their plane went down.
McLeod and the crew were able to confirm that the tail marker of the downed plane matched a single-engine Mooney aircraft piloted by Neron, who was from Alberta.
Officials were able to narrow the search to a region 18 kilometres outside Revelstoke last November, based on information from radar and a cellphone tower that picked up a signal from Neron’s cellphone.
The search for the plane and its two occupants was called off after nine days.
Neron’s sister, Tammy Neron, expressed relief in a Facebook site set up exclusively to help in the search.
Her post on a site called Missing Plane: Find Dominic & Ashley, says the discovery meant her birthday wish came true.
“Our families cannot thank each and every one of you enough for embracing us during what’s been the hardest 10 months of our lives,” she said.
Neron thanked police, search and rescue officials and everyone involved in looking for the aircraft.
Mounties said they are investigating with the B.C. Coroners Service and a team, including forensic identification experts, has reached the remote site.
“The RCMP wishes to thank the helicopter pilots and crew of the BC Ambulance Service for their watchful eyes in locating this plane and assisting to bring closure to the two families,” the Revelstoke detachment said in a release.