Local residents involved in Canadian plane crashA trio of Minnesota residents experienced a close call last week while vacationing in Canada. Cloquet resident Art Martin was at the controls of a Cessna 180 float plane when it crashed shortly after takeoff in a wooded area near Trout Lake outside of Kenora, Ontario, last Wednesday.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A trio of Minnesota residents experienced a close call last week while vacationing in Canada. Cloquet resident Art Martin was at the controls of a Cessna 180 float plane when it crashed shortly after takeoff in a wooded area near Trout Lake outside of Kenora, Ontario, last Wednesday. Also on board the plane was Martin’s son, Jeff, also of Cloquet, and family friend Linda May.
All were initially rushed to Lake of the Woods Hospital in Kenora. Jeff Martin, who suffered only minor injuries, was treated and released.
The elder Martin was transported in reportedly serious condition from Kenora to a hospital in Thunder Bay, and since that time no updated information has been received regarding his status.
May was transferred to a hospital in Duluth, where she was also reported to be in serious condition at the time of her admission.
Jenny Ford of the Winnipeg Free Press reported last Friday that Peter Hildebrand, regional manager for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) in Winnipeg, said the TSB was investigating the cause of the crash.
Witnesses said they heard the float plane’s engine cut out before it crashed into the woods around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Free Press article indicated that a seasonal resident on the lake noticed that after the Martins’ light plane was airborne, he suddenly was unable to hear the engine any longer.
“Instead of the noise fading off into the distance, it just stopped,” said lake resident Kelly Huff.
Soon after, Huff reported hearing a thrashing noise as the plane hit the trees in the woods across the lake. He then saw his neighbor, Jay Gard, and Gard’s friend, Larry Ingram, jump in a boat and race over to the remote crash site.
Huff and his other neighbor, Laurie Bush, soon followed in another boat, according to the Free Press account.
“We could hear this faint voice of someone saying ‘Help, help,’” Huff said.
That faint voice was Jeff Martin, who emerged from the crash scratched and bruised, while May and Art Martin were trapped inside. The plane, Huff said, was torn to shreds.
“The tail of the plane was 60 feet up in a pine tree,” he said. “Both wings were sheared off... fuel was pouring out of the plane.”
The plane was only a short distance from a rock wall, and if it had hit the wall, Huff speculated, it was unlikely anyone would have survived.
The Free Press article said four people worked to free May and then Martin, who was trapped beneath the fuselage.
Huff then returned to the other side of the lake to call emergency services. He had to ferry them over to the crash site when they arrived around 9:30 a.m., since it was too rocky for their helicopter to land in the woods, he said.
Lake resident Otto Kemerle used his pontoon boat to take emergency crews and then the wounded to and from shore.
When he arrived at the crash site, he said, the plane looked as if it was split in half, with the wings gone and the tail section hung up high in a tree.
Huff said Art Martin flies the plane once or twice a week in the summer to fish in remote areas. He said Martin has had a cottage on the lake for more than 40 years.
None of the Martin family members returned phone calls this week regarding the accident.
Parts of this story were reproduced by special permission from the Winnipeg Free Press.