The pilot of the Cessna Citation that crashed near Kelowna B.C., killing former premier Jim Prentice has been identified.
A statement from his family says 62-year-old Jim Kruk was a retired RCMP officer, who had been flying since 1976.
Kruk was from Airdie, and leaves behind his wife and two teenaged sons.
Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said the jet departed Kelowna International Airport Thursday night. It was travelling to an airport right outside of Calgary when it went down just outside of Kelowna. The wreckage was found early Friday near Winfield, about 18km north of Kelowna.
The flight disappeared off radar at 10:07 p.m. Investigators know from radar that the aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 2600 meters, and that it was plummeting at rate of 11 meters per second before it fell off of radar screens. That’s slightly faster than free fall.
Yearwood says the aircraft was destroyed on impact, “the fact that there’s so many small bits, and that there was fire, will make it challenging. We hope that there are recorders that will help with this investigation.”
Global News reports the 1974 Cessna Citation did have some history, a few years ago while it was en-route from Vancouver to Spring Bank there was a depressurization event.
The Surrey Air Traffic Control Centre alerted the Kelowna RCMP and Lake Country RCMP detachments.
The wreckage was found a few hours later northeast of Lake Country, north of Kelowna. “Our police officers and police dog reached the crash scene shortly after midnight, but unfortunately they were not able to locate any survivors,” Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, spokesperson for the RCMP in Southeast District said in a release.
Several residents who live in the area said they heard what they thought was the sound of a plane flying low, followed by a loud noise.
“Several resources were immediately dispatched to the jet’s last known location,” Moskaluk said.
“RCMP investigators located the crash site approximately four kilometres into a heavily wooded area north of Beaver Lake Road, east of Lake Country.”
The flight was destined for Calgary’s Springbank airport.
All four people on board were found dead at the scene. One of them, Calgary optometrist Dr. Ken Gellatly, is the father-in-law of Prentice’s daughter Cassia Prentice. The other is retired Calgary businessman Sheldon Reid. Global News reports the group spent the day in Kelowna golfing, and were on their way home when the jet went down.
“Our priority is to first share information with the families of those individuals killed in this tragic crash,” said Moskaluk.
Jim Prentice was the 16th premier of Alberta. He won the Progressive Conservative party leadership in September 2014 and lost the provincial election in May 2015.
Following his defeat in the May 2015 provincial election, Prentice joined the Washington-based Canada Institute at the Wilson Center as a visiting fellow. He was also working on a book.
Former Alberta justice minister Jonathan Denis says Prentice could have been a great leader for the province.
“I do believe that if he had been given more time as premier, that he could have been one of the great premiers of Alberta,” said Denis. “He has such a strong devotion to this province, and on the federal scene as well.”
Denis says Prentice was a determined politician.
“He was someone who was known to be very intelligent,” said Denis. “He was very hard-working, he was very accomplished in his career. He was (also) very proud to be an Albertan, and I’m proud to have known him.”
Prentice leaves behind his wife, Karen, and three daughters. Jim Prentice was 60 years old.
(With files from Global News)(djs/kdr/mw/km/kb)