GOLDEN, British Columbia — Rescuers who helped find a 3-year-old girl alive in the crumpled wreckage of an airplane say they knew she was OK when she cried for her teddy bear.
The girl, Kate Williams, survived the crash on Sunday because she was strapped into a child's car seat, said Mike Plonka, a search-and-rescue team member.
Her pilot grandfather, Allen D. Williams, 65, and Steven T. Sutton died in the accident. The plane was found nose down and flipped over in the icy water at the edge of a riverbank in the rugged mountains of southeast British Columbia.
"What saved her life was being strapped into that car seat," Plonka said Monday.
"You could see that she was very scared. Her big concern at the time was her little teddy bear. She didn't want to leave without it."
"She was just pointing at it and calling it 'Baby.'"
Reunited with parents
The girl suffered head injuries but was listed as stable, and was reunited with her parents, said hospital officials here.
Police said the Cessna 172 was on its way to Edmonton when it took off from Golden around 1 p.m. Sunday into low clouds and snow. Visibility was poor.
An hour later, the Search and Rescue Centre in Victoria picked up the aircraft's emergency locator transmitter signal from somewhere near the Blaeberry River.
The crash scene was found by a team using a hand-held beacon locator, and two military search and rescue technicians — Sgt. Scott Elliston and Master Cpl. Bruno Lapointe — landed nearby in a helicopter.
As they checked the wreckage for survivors, they discovered the girl alive but surrounded by debris in the back of the plane. The two soldiers tried to remove her from the wreckage, but she made it clear she did not want to leave without her teddy bear.
"I got her out and I handed her to Bruno. She was calling out for her teddy bear. I picked up the teddy bear to give it to her but it was covered in snow. She wasn't too happy that it was covered in snow so I brushed it off," Elliston said.
Williams was CEO and founder of Edmonton-based A.D. Williams Engineering Inc. Sutton was chief financial officer. The two men had been attending a business retreat in Golden.
The cause of the accident was under investigation. It is the latest in a number of crashes in the rough terrain of British Columbia.
On Friday, a Piper Malibu flying from Oregon to Alberta crashed about 6 miles east of Invermere, killing all three people aboard. And earlier last week, another Cessna 172 disappeared while flying to Qualicum on Vancouver Island. Pilot Ron Boychuk was on his way from Revelstoke, but his plane never arrived.
His family asked the public to look out for the 61-year-old, who is an experienced outdoorsman.
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