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Floatplane victims’ families file suits

The wreckage of the de Havilland Beaver seaplane that crashed off Saturna Island in November 2009. -
The wreckage of the de Havilland Beaver seaplane that crashed off Saturna Island in November 2009.
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At least two families of people killed in a November 2009 seaplane crash off Saturna Island are suing the company, pilot and others for negligence.

According to documents filed last week in B.C. Supreme Court, White Rock’s Barbara Glenn, her two children and her mother-in-law are claiming for general, pecuniary, aggravated, punitive and special damages in the death of Thomas Glenn, 60.

The husband of former Semiahmoo Peninsula resident Dr. Kerry Telford, 41, filed a similar suit this week.

The Glenns – childhood friends who had been married 36 years – along with Telford and her infant daughter, Sarah, were passengers aboard a Seair de Havilland Beaver floatplane Nov. 29, 2009, when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Lyall Harbour. Amongst eight people onboard, the pilot, identified in court documents as Francois St. Pierre, and Barbara Glenn were the only survivors.

All six victims survived the impact, but drowned before they could escape the plane.

A report released in March by the Transportation Safety Board notes a number of factors contributed to the deaths, including that some of the aircraft’s doors were jammed shut; the doors and windows could not be quickly removed; and, none of those onboard were wearing life-jackets.

The report suggests that seaplane passengers should be made to wear life-jackets and that all new and existing floatplanes be fitted with quick-escape exits.

According to the Glenns’ suit, Thomas Glenn suffered pain, anxiety and terror in the moments before he died. He had been seated behind and to the left of his wife, in the plane’s back row.

Barbara Glenn, seated in the centre row next to the cabin door, was able to take a breath and struggle, injured, toward a light in the flooded cabin which turned out to be an open door, the documents state.

The dental hygienist “never saw her husband alive again.”

The suit claims the defendants “were aware of the elevated danger of seaplanes and of flights over water and of specific recommendations within the aviation industry to improve safety…”

The defendants have 21 days to respond to the allegations.

 

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