A pilot from Houston, Texas, his family and two adults from Canada died in a small plane crash in Kingston, Ont., Wednesday evening.
Pilot Otabek Oblokulov, his wife, their children ages three, 11 and 15, and another adult couple, Bobomurod Nabiev and his wife who lived in the Toronto area, all died on board, friends of the victims told CBC News.
Nabiev and his partner were permanent residents of Canada and originally from Uzbekistan. CBC was not able to immediately confirm her name.
The Piper PA-32 was headed to Quebec City from Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham, Ont., when it made contact with Kingston’s flight service station and crashed northwest of the city’s core sometime around 5 p.m. ET, according to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
The TSB said on Thursday the plane had changed course to Kingston. It came down approximately 5.5 to 7.5 kilometres north of the city’s airport. All seven on board died in the crash.
Configurations of the Piper PA-32, better known as the Cherokee Six, can have six or seven seats, but the TSB said so far it has only found six seats on the plane.
Investigators began combing through the wreckage Thursday morning. A photograph released by the TSB shows pieces of the plane strewn among tree trunks and branches in a forested area northwest of the eastern Ontario city’s core.
Early investigation shows the plane came down on a steep incline, Ken Webster, a spokesperson for TSB, told reporters at a news conference Thursday evening.
Emergency crews were called to the area near Creekford Road and Bayridge Drive around 5:30 p.m. ET, said Const. Ash Gutheinz, a spokesperson for Kingston Police.
Frontenac Paramedic Services, which covers the county including Kingston, said it was called to the scene but did not treat any patients.
The crash site was hard to access, so police waited until morning to continue the investigation, officers at the scene told Radio-Canada’s Frédéric Pepin on Thursday.
TSB, Kingston Police and the coroner’s office will be co-ordinating the investigation.
TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski said the federal agency will be working with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board because the plane was registered in the States.
Four TSB investigators will look into factors including weather, maintenance, pilot training and any communications with air traffic control, Krepski said, adding this type of plane is not required to have flight data recorders.
Environment Canada had issued a special statement for Kingston that night, advising that wind gusts could reach up to 80 km/h.
Gutheinz said while winds may not have been as bad as predicted, it was certainly “blustery.”
WATCH | Chris Krepski, TSB spokesperson, says ‘exact number of fatalities’ not yet known:
Reports of loud noise
Area resident Amanda Anglin said she heard a boom that reminded her of thunder heard earlier in the day, then saw emergency vehicles speed past.
Police went to her property to ask if she’d seen anything, she said, and were later spotted searching the fields around the property.
“They had their four-wheelers, flashlights … There were lots of them,” said Anglin.
Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 8 Wing Trenton base to the west also helped in the search with a helicopter.
Kingston Police have kept roads closed around the crash site Thursday morning.
Police are asking motorists to avoid Creekford Road between Westbrook Road and Bayridge Drive until further notice.