Residents in Haines Junction, Yukon, dealing with aftermath of fatal plane crash

One person is dead after a small plane crashed at the airport in Haines Junction, Yukon, on Monday.  (Caitrin Pilkington/CBC - image credit)
One person is dead after a small plane crashed at the airport in Haines Junction, Yukon, on Monday. (Caitrin Pilkington/CBC - image credit)

The mayor of Haines Junction, Yukon, says the community is pulling together after a small plane crashed at the community's airport on Monday, killing one person.

Several others were transported by medevac to hospital. The same day, a number of ambulances, RCMP vehicles and fire trucks could be heard racing to the site.

The small plane had capacity for five passengers, but officials have yet to confirm the number of people on board at the time of the accident, or the identity of the deceased victim.

Haines Junction Mayor Bruce Tomlin said local residents were directly involved with the first response and that everyone is dealing with the aftermath in their own way.

"Everyone knows everybody, and there's a lot of people involved in the ambulance, fire response to accidents up and down the highway, at the airport… everybody pulls together," Tomlin said.

In an email to CBC News on Monday, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) said a Cessna U206G aircraft "collided with terrain on the airport's ground."

The Transportation Safety Board says the small aircraft in Haines Junction "collided with terrain on the airport's ground." Yukon's chief coroner says her office is investigating a fatality.
The Transportation Safety Board says the small aircraft in Haines Junction "collided with terrain on the airport's ground." Yukon's chief coroner says her office is investigating a fatality.

The Transportation Safety Board says the small aircraft in Haines Junction 'collided with terrain on the airport's ground.' Yukon's chief coroner said her office is investigating a fatality. (Caitrin Pilkington/CBC)

A team of investigators from the TSB was dispatched later that evening and was expected to reach the community at some point on Tuesday.

The Yukon RCMP and coroner's office are also involved in the investigation.

Tomlin said there will be time for healing and reflection over the next few weeks.

Just over 1,000 people live in Haines Junction.

'It gets very personal' 

Ron Chambers is a Haines Junction search and rescue veteran. He says in communities this size, acting as a first responder takes a toll.

"It gets personal, it gets very personal," he said.

Ron Chambers has worked in search and rescue in the area for decades.
Ron Chambers has worked in search and rescue in the area for decades.

Ron Chambers has worked in search and rescue in the area for decades. (Caitrin Pilkington/CBC)

The plane that crashed was owned by Rocking Star Adventures Ltd., a tour company with locations in Haines Junction and Burwash Landing.

Seeing small passenger planes come and go is a regular occurrence for those in the Junction. Tourists are drawn to the community by the opportunity to tour Kluane National Park and nearby glaciers from the skies.

It's also common for those involved in mineral, oil and gas extraction as well as scientific research to traverse the territory in similar planes.

"Living in a part of the world where we rely on air travel so much, and the fact that many of us do travel in small aircraft for work, make events like this really hit home," said Sarah Chisholm, another Haines Junction resident.

Haines Junction city councillor Angie Charlebois said there's still very little information available about those who were affected and their current condition.

"Knowing that it was a local plane, [people are] worrying about who was on board, anticipating that it might be someone that we know that's well-connected," Charlebois said.

Angie Charlebois sits on the village's council.
Angie Charlebois sits on the village's council.

Angie Charlebois sits on the village's council. (Caitrin Pilkington/CBC)

"The effect of any injuries or losses would be huge for the community. My stomach has been in knots since hearing about it."

Charlebois said she's hoping for the best for those who are injured, and waiting to see if there may be any opportunities to help.

"I know how devastating it is, especially early on when you don't know the severity. My thoughts are with family and friends and loved ones and what they're going through at a time like this."