In this Jan. 4, 2018, photo provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), wreckage of a seaplane is lifted from a river north of Sydney. The owner of the seaplane that crashed near Sydney during a New Year’s Eve joy flight, killing the Canadian pilot and his five British passengers, says that flight path was not authorized according to a preliminary report released Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. (ATSB via AP)

Investigator says B.C. pilot impaired by fumes in 2017 Australia crash

Pilot Gareth Morgan and his five British passengers died during a joy flight on New Year’s Eve

A Canadian seaplane pilot was impaired by carbon monoxide fumes from engine exhaust when he flew off course and crashed into a river near Sydney in 2017 with the loss of six lives, a crash investigator said Friday.

Pilot Gareth Morgan, a former resident of North Vancouver and his five British passengers died during a joy flight on New Year’s Eve when the DHC-2 Beaver flew low into a dead-end bay surrounded by steep terrain and then crashed into the Hawkesbury River.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the crash investigator, said autopsies revealed that Morgan and two passengers had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their bodies.

“The levels of carbon monoxide were likely to have adversely affected the pilot’s ability to control the aircraft,” bureau chief commissioner Greg Hood said in a statement.

The passengers were Compass Group chief executive Richard Cousins, his fiancee Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter, Heather Bowden-Page, and his two sons William, 25, and Edward, 23. The bureau did not say which had been effected by carbon monoxide or reveal the concentration levels.

Investigators also found cracks in the exhaust system of the plane that was built in 1963 and bolts missing from a firewall that would have allowed carbon monoxide to leak from the engine bay into the cabin, the bureau said.

The plane’s owner, Sydney Seaplanes, said in a statement it had a strict program for engine maintenance and inspection which was performed by a regulator-approved organization.

The missing bolts were not a fault that would be discovered by the pilot during his pre-flight safety checks, the owner said.

Based on the ongoing investigation, the bureau on Friday warned owners of all piston-engine planes to takes steps to detect carbon monoxide in cabins.

The bureau has not said when its final report on the cause of the crash will be released.

Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former MP Wayne Stetski running for BC NDP in Kootenay East

Former federal MP Wayne Stetski is running as the BC NDP candidate… Continue reading

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Local wakesurfers hit the podium, will compete at world championship

Local wakesurfers hit the podium during a national competition at Lake Okanagan… Continue reading

It happened in 1913

Sept. 20 - 26: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read