In respect to family wishes, The News at this time has withdrawn a story identifying the pilot.
An investigator with the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has been deployed to Abbotsford to investigate the fatal plane crash that took place Monday night.
The role of the TSB will be to “gather information and assess the occurrence,” according to a news release. Its role is not to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood said the pilot was given the go-ahead to fly in Monday’s inclement weather, but soon after taking off, he informed the control tower that he was turning back due to the bad conditions.
It has not yet been confirmed which direction he was travelling at the time of the crash.
Yearwood said information from the TSB investigation will be included in a public report released either through the TSB or, more likely, through the BC Coroners Service. He said this will likely take several months.
Wreckage from a light aircraft was found at about 9 p.m. in a wooded area south of Highway 1 near Ross Road following a search mission that began around 4:30 Monday afternoon.
The pilot was deceased when he was found.
Crews were initially alerted to the area of Mt. Lehman and Downes roads after the control tower at Abbotsford Airport lost contact with the pilot and a beacon was sending a signal from the northwest area of the city.
Abbotsford Police, two search and rescue teams, and a Cormorant helicopter from Canadian Forces Base Comox were involved in the search over the next few hours.
At one point, crews searched a property in the 4500 block of Bradner Road after the homeowner reported seeing smoke and fire and thought it might be the plane wreckage.
Crews did not find any fire on the property or any trace of the plane.
Online reports at one point also indicated that the Cormorant had located the wreckage, but Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said those reports were false.
He said the search efforts, which involved about 30 people, were hampered by the pelting rain, wind, darkness and rough terrain.
He said crews were also receiving “false and inaccurate readings” from the beacon, making it difficult to pinpoint the plane’s exact location.
The aircraft was located in a densely wooded area near a mushroom farm, and it was determined that the pilot had crashed after clipping power lines.
He had been en route to Pitt Meadows after departing from Abbotsford Airport.
Following the crash, Highway 1 between 264 Street and Mt. Lehman Road was closed for several hours, including through the morning rush hour, to enable BC Hydro crews to access transmission lines in the area of the crash so they could be inspected and/or repaired.
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