One dead, one seriously injured after planes collide over Montreal-area mall
Taline McPhedran, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, March 17, 2017 1:23PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 17, 2017 11:31PM EDT
Two planes collided midair above a busy Montreal-area shopping mall, resulting in the death of one pilot and serious injuries to the other.
One of the planes crashed into the parking lot, just steps away from one of the entrances to the Promenades Saint-Bruno in Saint-Bruno-de- Montarville, Que. while the other crashed on top of one of the stores.
According to tweets from the Longueuil Police Department, both planes had a single male pilot and confirmed the deceased pilot was 21-years-old and the injured pilot is 23-year-old.
The planes were both Cessna 152 aircraft operated by Cargair, the biggest flying school in Quebec. According to sources, the two pilots involved in the crash were pilots in training from China.
“We just want to reassure our populations that we’ve been here since the beginning of this situation and all the services are working onsite,” said Martin Murray, the mayor of Saint-Bruno during a press conference on Friday afternoon.
The mall was evacuated shortly after the crash when officers noticed fuel from the plane leaking through the roof of the mall.
According to Ryan Moran, a witness at the scene of the crash, he originally thought the noise he heard was from a toy plane that someone was flying.
“I don’t believe a lot of people knew what happened,” Moran told CTV News Channel. “The people that were already outside and witnessed what happened knew what was going on but in regards to the information we were getting, there didn’t seem to be much.”
Another witness, Jonathan Litler, said he heard the sound of the engines but thought nothing of it.
“All of a sudden I heard the sound intensify a little bit so I looked towards the skies and saw the moment of impact,” Litler told CTV Montreal. “I saw them fall towards the ground and disappear.”
Close by at a restaurant next to the parking lot crash site, Jonathan Vanasse says he was eating when he saw the plane wreckage on the ground, leaking fuel.
“There was just shredded metal,” Vanasse told The Canadian Press. “No one was panicking, but people started crying a few minutes later, when they realized a plane had fallen from the sky.”
The shopping mall is about five kilometres away from the Montreal Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport which would have had the pilots close to landing.
According to aviation expert Keith Mackey, a number of things could have caused the crash, including glare from the sun, a possible mechanical issue or the experience level of the pilots.
“It’s more of the experience level of the pilot than it is the capability of the airplane,” Keith Mackey, an aviation expert, told CTV News Channel. “It takes a while for a new pilot to learn to manoeuver the airplanes in conditions in which the airplanes are actually very capable of handling.”
Cargair released a statement saying that they’re working with authorities and offered their sympathies to the families of the pilots.
“We are concentrating our efforts to support our employees and students who are part of the Cargair family,” the company said in a statement.
The Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the exact cause of the crash.
With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and files from The Canadian Press