The newly appointed president of a devastated Edmonton engineering firm says they are in “complete disbelief” after a second plane tragedy in five months killed several senior executives.
Naseem Bashir was appointed president of A. D. Williams Engineering yesterday, replacing Reagan Williams, the pilot of a small plane that crashed Friday killing all five on board.
Calling it a “tragic, unbelievable event,” Bashir said the firm will try to move on like business as usual but news of the accident was shocking since it came five months after a similar plane tragedy.
“(We were) absolutely stunned — very, very numb,” he said. “Complete disbelief like it can’t be possibly happening again. I think those feelings are, for the most part, very much still here today. It’s certainly been a very difficult time.”
Also killed Friday were executives Philippe Allard and Rhonda Quirke, along with Shaun Stewart of Jordan’s Flooring and Trevor Korol of Ledcor Construction.
In October, company founder Allen Williams, father of Reagan, and CFO Steve Sutton were killed when their small engine plane crashed near Golden, B.C.
The Williams family released a brief statement yesterday.
“It is difficult to find the words that could describe the grief affecting our family,” the statement reads. “We are hurting. And we know that other families are hurting as well. … We recognize that this tragedy has touched the hearts of many.”
An investigator with the Transportation Safety Board told reporters yesterday that the plane appeared to have rolled to the right in mid-air before spiralling to the ground as it picked up speed Friday evening.
The aircraft reached speeds of over 480 kmh, which could have caused the plane to break apart in the sky, safety board official Wray Tsuji said.
Pilot Reagan Williams had radioed an air traffic controller that the auto-pilot was malfunctioning, he said. Eight minutes later, the single-engine Piper Malibu crashed into the ground near Wainwright.
The wreckage appears to confirm reports of an in-flight breakup since the wings and tail section were found scattered across the prairie. A full investigation will be conducted.