A 32-year-old Chilliwack pilot who was killed in a plane crash in Honduras on Saturday is being described by his father as a spontaneous person who was a happy child.
Larry Forseth said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press from Honduras that he had spoken with his son Patrick earlier on the morning of the crash.
Patrick Forseth, who also goes by Danny, told his father of a ”minor issue with a battery terminal,” he said.
“The cable to the battery was loose so the plane would not start … and he had a mechanic come … and he fixed the problem,” Larry Forseth said.
“That was fine and the plane started and everything was normal. And shortly after departure this horrible, horrible tragedy happened.”
Larry Forseth said the family is not sure what happened but believes it was a private flight, and that the plane crashed into the water just off the shore of Roatan.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed Sunday a Canadian citizen had died in the crash, but did not identify the person due to privacy concerns.
Stefano Maron said consular officials in the capital, Tegucigalpa, were in contact with local authorities and were providing assistance to the victim’s family.
The Piper Cherokee Six plummeted into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff from Roatan en route to Trujillo, a port city on Honduras’s northern coast.
The Associated Press reported that the other victims of the crash were four American passengers, citing an Armed Forces spokesman.
The Honduran military said in a statement that rescue boats with police divers and firemen recovered four bodies within minutes of the crash and transported another to a hospital, where he died shortly after of internal injuries.
The U.S. State Department also confirmed the deaths of four American citizens.
Larry Forseth said the family is trying to piece together the tragedy.
His son was a “very experienced” pilot who had trained at the Coastal Pacific Aviation school in Abbotsford, B.C., he said, adding that Patrick had also flown for companies in Canada.
“I’ve been a commercial pilot all my life and I’ve spent many hours in the air with him and he’s a very capable, very professional pilot.”
The family is “not doing good,” Larry Forseth said.
“We are taking it very badly,” he said. “He was way too young …. It’s a horrible thing to lose your child and he was a very special child. And we are a very close family.”
Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone, he said.
The father described his son as a “happy child, always smiling” growing up. He said his son loved to build tree forts and was good with his hands.
Forseth also described his son as a jokester, saying he was the life of the party.
“So spontaneous … and he would talk about anything and everything and have people laughing and having fun,” he said wistfully. “He was a very social, outgoing person.”
Forseth’s remains were cremated Monday, and a few pilots in the area gathered later in the day to pay tribute.
His ashes will be taken to the little town of Trullio for a celebration of life, and after that the family, who spends a few months in B.C. and a few in Honduras, plans to return to Canada for a similar gathering with relatives and friends.
“It’s very difficult. You should not lose a child. They should not pass away before their parents,” Forseth said breaking down.
“It’s just not right. You should not have to bury your child. Oh, it’s hard.”
—By Hina Alam in Vancouver with files from Associated Press
The Canadian Press