An Oakland man was killed and his daughter and son-in-law were injured in northern Quebec on Tuesday when the seaplane he was piloting crashed, according to Quebec provincial police.
The plane, based on Messalonskee Lake, crashed near Lake St. Pierre, which is about 50 miles north of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, a city on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.
The three victims were on a fishing trip and were flying from one lake to another when the plane crashed in the forest, according to Nathalie Girard, spokeswoman for Surete de Quebec, the province’s police agency.
Girard identified the pilot and owner of the plane as William McKay, 68. McKay’s daughter Katie Turner and son-in-law Mike Turner, ages 34 and 45, who were injured in the crash, used a satellite phone that was in the plane to call for help, Girard said.
Rescuers were not able to find the plane, however, so the couple left the crash site despite their injuries and walked in the direction of road noises. They eventually emerged on St-Pierre Road, a little-traveled gravel highway, Girard said, adding that they were lucky that forestry workers happened to pass by and pick them up.
The Turners were receiving treatment for their injuries at Centre Hospitalier Regional Baie-Comeau and were expected to recover, Girard said.
Quebec’s transport ministry and the provincial police have begun an investigation into the cause of the crash.
The McKay home on Morse Point Place was empty Wednesday other than the family pets, two chocolate Labrador retrievers.
Two houses away is the home of Shirley and Wayne Chaffee, who were devastated after hearing the news from a reporter.
“This is a nice family, that’s all I can tell you,” Shirley Chaffee said. “They’ve been wonderful, wonderful neighbors. Bill was always good with helping with anything. He was there to help you.”
Shirley Chaffee said she and her husband moved to the lakeside home in 1967, and Bill McKay and his wife, Brenda, moved in to the neighborhood about seven years later.
“My daughter used to babysit their children — I think I’m dreaming,” Shirley Chaffee said, shaken by the news. “He was a good man. Everybody loved him. I can’t say one bad word about him.”
Wayne Chaffee said Bill McKay has had a plane for as long as he’s lived there.
“One time – this was years ago – Bill went up to The Forks. I think he had a camp up there, and on the way back he realized he didn’t check the gas gauge,” Wayne Chaffee recalled. “He started looking for a field. His plane was on floats and the grass was tall, and Bill said, ‘I was light and just settled right in. But when I stopped sliding I said, Bill, you’re awfully smart or awfully dumb.’ ”
Along with his daughter, Katie, McKay has a son Cameron, who owns No Limit Custom Ink LLC, a screen printing and embroidery business in Fairfield. McKay has several grandchildren, according to the Chaffees.
A report in Plein Jour de Baie-Comeau, a French-language newspaper, said McKay was piloting a Cessna 185 aircraft, and that McKay’s body was found in the plane after a search of more than two hours.
The newspaper said a helicopter and Hercules airplane from the Canadian armed forces were involved in a search for survivors.
McKay’s private pilot license was renewed in May 2010, and he received a medical clearance last month, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database. He had been flying planes since 1974, he said in a 2006 interview with the Morning Sentinel.
Jesse Scardina can be contacted at 861-9239 or at [email protected]