The 20-year-old pilot who survived a float plane crash in B.C.’s South Chilcotin region has been identified by family as Spencer Neufeld from Williams Lake.
Two other men, a 20-year-old man from Prince George and a 29-year-old man from Aldergrove, died after the plane crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday on Tyaughton Lake, located 100 kilometres west of Lillooet.
The family has issued a statement through Interior Health, thanking everyone who expressed concern about their son.
“Spencer is recovering after undergoing surgery at Royal Inland Hospital. We are grateful that his injuries are non-life threatening. Spencer would like to thank the people who came to his rescue and saved his life after the accident, as well as the staff at Royal Inland Hospital for his continuing care,” the Neufeld family said.
“Our thoughts especially go out to the families of the other people on the plane.”
The Neufelds asked for privacy so they can heal.
Several photos on Neufeld’s Facebook and Instagram pages show him working as a pilot for Fort Langley Air.
Fort Langley Air has not yet returned calls, but one of its posts on Facebook mentions a different flight in which “Spencer Neufeld flew like a champ.”
The Transportation Safety Board confirmed that the Cessna 180 that Neufeld was flying for when it crashed near Lillooet was owned by Fort Langley Air.
The company’s owner Scott MacIntosh said, in a statement, that there were two pilots on the plane and confirmed it was not a chartered flight.
“Our priority today is just to be there for the families that have been impacted by this tragedy,” he said, in the statement.
MacIntosh would not provide any details about Neufeld or his experience with piloting float planes. He said Friday that because of the TSB investigation, he had been advised not to say anything more than what he provided in the statement.
The body of the Aldergrove man was recovered Thursday from the submerged plane. A 20-year-old man from Prince George also died in the crash.
Lillooet RCMP say shortly before 1 p.m., police were notified that a small float plane had crashed on Tyaughton Lake. Linteau said several 911 callers told authorities that bystanders were trying to rescue the plane occupants.
When police arrived, they confirmed that a 20-year-old male passenger had died. The pilot was flown to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Linteau said the survivor escaped the wreckage on his own then was pulled from the water by boaters.
Lillooet RCMP, the B.C. Coroners Service and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Linteau said it is too early to speculate on the cause of the crash.