VANCOUVER ISLAND - White Rock businessman Norm Slavik, who died in a float plane crash near Potts Lagoon off Port McNeill on Thursday, was reluctant to make the trip, and only decided at the last minute to go, said his wife's uncle on Sunday.
"Norm did not want to go on this trip - he was really only going as a favour to his friend," said Jack Bush of Comox on Sunday.
The pilot of an Air Cab Cessna 185 had left Coal Harbour that morning and picked up Slavik, 58, and another man in Port McNeill before heading southeast to West Cracroft Island. The B.C. coroner has identified the other passenger as Frederick Gerald Cecil Wiley, 40, of Merville on Vancouver Island, and the pilot as Kevin Roger Williams, 42, from Lake Country in the Okanagan.
The aircraft was preparing to land in a confined area near the logging camp when it slammed into a hillside about 20 metres from the shoreline, said the Transportation Safety Board. Occupants of a shrimp boat saw the crash, called authorities and tried to help the three crash victims, but all died at the scene. Witnesses reported the aircraft appeared to abort its landing and stalled, plummeting into the trees, said Bush, who is a pilot himself.
"It looks like he probably erred in that he tried to turn too quickly out of the lift and didn't have enough [lift] and it dropped out of the sky," Bush said.The pilot didn't do a fly-over of the landing area prior to actually landing, Bush said he was told.
"I fly too and this is just something you do," Bush said.
Transportation Safety Board investigators are interviewing the witnesses and looking at other factors, such as whether fog, which had been prevalent on the coast at the time, obscured visibility.
The condition of the aircraft and information on any onboard recording devices will also be examined.The purpose of the trip was to do an audit of a logging operation, said Bush.
Slavik worked as a forestry consultant and frequently used float planes to get to work sites, said Bush.
"I once said to him, 'You're on the edge - you spend so much time in these float planes that one of these days, well, what are the odds...," Bush's voice trailed off." And he said, 'Ah, what the hell.' It was part of doing business for him."
Slavik was an astute businessman who always made time for his wife Sandy and daughters Gail and Lisa, who are in their late teens or early 20s, said Bush.
"He just put his whole heart and soul into whatever he did, that's the kind of guy he was," Bush said. "This has just been a real, real blow. The two girls just loved their dad like you can't believe."
Slavik grew up in Vancouver and attended B.C. Institute of Technology to study forestry.
"He went into the forestry business," said Bush. "He owned and operated a sawmill in Delta at one point, then he went on and put together three companies."All his business was generated around the forest industry in B.C."
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