The families of three passengers killed in a British Columbia floatplane crash that an investigation revealed was likely caused by the drunken antics of one of them are suing the charter airline, saying the pilot should have known better than to let them aboard. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the suit also blames pilot Damon York, who also died in the crash, for not wearing a shoulder harness "so as to prevent being jammed into the control panel" when the backseat passenger behind him kicked the back of his seat. As we reported last year, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board report suggested the passengers were too drunk to realize how unwise their actions were. "It is likely that passenger interference caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft whereupon it descended in a steep nose-down attitude until it struck the water," the report says. "It is possible the passengers' level of intoxication contributed to their inability to recognize the gravity of the situation and stop the interference in time for the pilot to regain control of the aircraft before impact."
The aircraft hit the water off Ahousat, an isolated community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The three passengers, Samantha Mattersdorf, Edward Sam and his sister Katrina Sam-English, hired the aircraft to fly from Tofino to Ahousaht after being refused a ride on a water taxi. Ahousaht is a dry aboriginal community. Witnesses told the TSB the passengers were clearly intoxicated and were arguing before they got on the plane at Tofino carrying a case of beer and several bottles of liquor. The TSB also noted that York could also have refused the charter if he believed the passengers were likely to cause safety problems.