NEWS

Victim in mid-air crash was experienced glider pilot

06/30/2013 07:52 EDT | Updated 08/30/2013 05:12 EDT
Friends and family of Rudy Rozsypalek are mourning the long-time pilot who was killed Saturday in a mid-air collision that killed four people and a dog approximately 50 kilometres north of Whistler, B.C.

Rozsypalek and his passenger were in the powered glider when it crashed with a Cessna 150 over top of Nairn Falls Provincial Park.

The accident was witnessed by many campers and park users, some of whom ran for cover from falling debris; others ran toward the wreckages to try to put out the flames and search for survivors.

- Read more: Witness describes 'brutal' scene

No one was injured in the busy campground and park below the mid-air crash point, but none of the occupants of the plane or glider survived.

The couple in the Cessna, a man and a woman, were flying with their dog from 100 Mile House in B.C.'s South Cariboo region to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.

TSB investigators arrived at the crash scene Saturday, which is split into two separate sites, and are continuing to document the scene and speak with witnesses Sunday. The glider crashed outside a maintenance yard adjacent to the Nairn Falls park campground, and the Cessna crashed across the Green River.

TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood said investigators recovered a GPS from the glider yesterday which should help them figure out what happened, along with other physical evidence.

"Our investigators are looking at damaged pieces for scars that may show paint transfer which will help us understand the angles and what the collision course was just prior to impact," he said.

An official with the Transportation Safety Board have said that the accident was likely caused by human error, but did not go into speculation as to the root cause of the crash.

Family, friends mourn Pemberton pilot

Friends and fellow-pilot told CBC News that Rozsypalek was an experienced pilot and that "no one knew the air above Pemberton as well as Rudy did."

For 20 years, Rozsypalek had co-owned and operated the Pemberton Soaring Centre, which provides glider flight excursions with certified pilots.

On Sunday, the soaring centre's business website was taken offline, and replaced with the announcement that the business has "has suspended operations."

Rozsypalek's family members said he was a wonderful man with a wonderful life story to tell — he came to Canada 20 years ago — and said they have been touched by the support that had been coming in.

His family said they are devastated by his loss, and are deeply saddened by the deaths of the others involved in the crash.

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