05/22/2013 02:25 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Former B.C. MLA Harold Long killed in plane crash

Former B.C. Liberal MLA Harold Long was killed in a plane crash in a remote inlet off the South Coast, the B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed.

"Mr. Long was the pilot and sole occupant of a DHC-2 Beaver float plane that was spotted overturned in Bute Inlet on the west side of Stuart Island in the late afternoon of May 21, 2013," said a statement released by Vancouver Island regional coroner Matt Brown.

"Search-and-rescue technicians, the Canadian Coast Guard and RCMP attended the scene, confirmed Mr. Long's death and completed the recovery later in the day."

- Read more about the plane crash

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating but officials say there were no witnesses to the crash, making the cause difficult to determine.

Long, 72, served as a Social Credit MLA for Mackenzie from 1986 to 1991 and as a Liberal MLA for Powell River–Sunshine Coast from 2001 to 2005. His family has run a transportation business called City Transfer on the West Coast for several generations.

Premier offers condolences

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she was saddened to learn of Long's death and praised his public service.

"I served with Harold in the legislature from 2001 to 2005 and will never forget his wise counsel and belief in giving back to British Columbia in ways big and small," Clark said in statement issued Wednesday morning.

"He embraced life with a great spirit. There were never any strangers when Harold was around. He treated everyone exactly the same — like a friend.

"Harold's family can be immensely proud of all his contributions and his generous nature, both of which touched so many. My thoughts and prayers are with them."