Dallas Smith was remembered as a loyal friend who lived life to its fullest at an informal memorial Tuesday night in White Rock.
The 30-year-old Smith, a White Rock native, was one of four people aboard a PA 30 Piper Twin Comanche that crashed the day before, 30 kilometres west of Kelowna, near Brenda Mines.
The B.C. Coroner’s Office said Smith was pronounced dead at the scene and the other occupants of the plane were airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital and Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital.
At PAN press time Wednesday, all were listed in critical condition.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” long-time friend Tim Proznick said following the Tuesday night get-together.
“Any second, you’d expect Dallas to make an entrance.”
Proznick met Smith at Semiahmoo Secondary, and they kept in touch.
Proznick, a professional musician, said he could almost always count on seeing his friend in the audience at his concerts.
Smith was part of a close-knit group of friends from the White Rock and South Surrey area, some of them dating back to elementary school.
Another longtime friend, Alexis Bennett, called them “the boys,” now young men, who all moved to Vancouver about the same time after leaving school.
The “very good looking” Smith was genuinely charming, Bennett said.
One of his best friend’s mothers nicknamed the 5’11” Smith “her little George Clooney” for his resemblance to the movie star.
When they were kids, Bennett said, she talked Smith into being her boyfriend, briefly, then decided they were better off staying friends. And they did.
Years later, they were platonic roommates for about a year, and they never lost touch, she said.
Even after moving to Vancouver, Bennett says, Smith would make regular trips back to the Peninsula to reconnect with friends.
And he loved travel, taking last year off to explore the world.
The motto on Smith’s Facebook page is a quote: “everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”
“He was adventurous,” Bennett said. “He did more than most people do in a lifetime. I’m just happy that he got to do as much as he did.”
“He definitely lived his life to the fullest,” Proznick said.
Smith’s girlfriend, a White Rock resident, had bought him flying lessons as a present, but it’s not clear if the flight he was on was part of the package she purchased. She is believed to have been on board the plane with Smith.
Registration letters on the wreckage match an entry in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Registry. The entry is for a Piper aircraft based in Boundary Bay and co-owned by Rick Zyvitski of Comox and Maplewood Landscaping in Delta.
When contacted by CTV News, one employee at the business said a family member of one of the owners was on board the plane.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria was first notified that the flight had gone down around 3 p.m. when an emergency beacon was set off upon impact, as the pilot had not placed a distress call.
It dispatched an air ambulance and rescue crews and the aircraft was found around 5 p.m. when a Buffalo search and rescue plane picked up the crashed aircraft’s signal, said Rod Braun of the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.
The crews parachuted into the scene, a few kilometres beyond the Brenda Mines turn-off and located the wreckage.
Police say the crash occurred in a wooded area about five kilometres from the scene of a float plane crash earlier this year that claimed three lives.
The cause of that crash is not yet known.
Transportation Safety Board spokesperson John Cottreau said investigators will be working at the crash site for the next two days.
– with files from South Delta Leader, Kelowna Capital News & CTV