HARBOUR MILLE, N.L. - A Newfoundland carpenter who died in a High Arctic jetliner crash was already frightened of the flights that took him to his northern workplace after having survived a previous crash in 2008, says a friend and neighbour.
Pam Pardy Ghent, 41, said her next-door neighbour and longtime friend Ches Tibbo was among those killed in the crash on Saturday. He was a resident of Harbour Mille, N.L.,
Pardy Ghent, a freelance writer, had included a mention of the man's survival in an article she wrote about a Dec. 13, 2008 crash on a flight from Resolute Bay that attempted to land at Cambridge Bay.
Police have yet to identify any of those killed in the crash, but Ghent said word has spread in the community that Tibbo has died.
"The family's informed us and the RCMP is there today," Pardy Ghent said in a telephone interview from her home.
Several men on board the 2008 flight that crashed were Newfoundlanders making the commute for work. They managed to get off the plane but spent four hours waiting for help in -41 C temperatures.
From that day forward Tibbo was afraid of the flights he had to take north.
"He said it was terrifying because they knew they were going down and (there was) shaking and the sounds and the sights of the trees and the fear of fire," she said.
"He just had this feeling," she said of his continued fear of flying.
But like many carpenters on the East Coast, the economic benefits of working in the West or North kept the man making the long journeys away from his wife and family.
"With few work options in small remote communities like this, working away is your only option. So he had to support his family, and he got back on that plane," she said.
Pardy Ghent said Tibbo had returned to attend his sister's funeral, making the tragedy all the sadder in the small community.
"It has been totally devastating for this community," she said. Harbour Mille is a tiny village along the province's south shore, and many of the residents either work in the fishery or commute to jobs in the West.
Pardy Ghent said Tibbo had just celebrated his 49th birthday and she wrote on his Facebook page wishing him a happy birthday.
"Minutes later my father called to say, 'Pam, have you heard?' ... It went from happy birthday to rest in peace in just minutes. It's just horrible."
She described her neighbour as a constantly cheerful man who greeted her with a soaring "Hi Pam" whenever he spied her leaving the house.
He often drove her 14-year-old son to events in neighbouring communities and would never take any cash for the gas.
"He was so very kind ... One time I randomly brought him over a beer for a thank-you, and he said, 'I'm only accepting this because I'm thirsty.'
"If anyone picked up a shovel or a hammer, he'd pick one up too and go and help," she said.
She said many other husbands from the community make the long trips to Alberta and the north to work and support their families, working for 20 days and returning home for a week.
"You never think about the danger," she said.