St. Foy, QB Plane Crash, Mar 1979
Quebecair was withholding the list of those aboard until later today, pending notification of the victims' families.
There were unconfirmed reports that one of the survivors had died. Quebecair vice-president Derek Crossen first told reporters there were 17 dead, but switched to 16 after consulting an aide.
Crossen said the pilot of Flight 255, bound for Montreal, told the airport control tower shortly after take-off that he had trouble with the right engine of the two-engine aircraft.
The plane turned in preparation for an emergency landing, but didn't make it back to the airport.
Police cordoned off the crash site from a mob of reporters and spectators while federal transport department investigators began combing through the debris. District Coroner J. Armand Drouin began a separate investigation of the crash.
The tail section of the 21-year-old Fairchild F-27 was separated from the rest of the fuselage, and seat cushions were scattered across the hillside. Ambulance had difficulty reaching the injured because of the location, across from a railway line.
Nearby residents who witnessed the disaster painted a gruesome picture of the scene.
Guy Gilbert, a 28-year-old forestry engineer, said he was at home with his daughter when he heard a boom that made his old house rattle on its foundations.
"At first, I thought it was a small plane because the boom wasn't so loud. Then I looked out and saw a big ball of fire."
Jacinthe Coulombe, 28, who lives downstairs from Gilbert, dashed out to the crash site and found about 13 blood-covered bodies strewn on the snow.
"Most of the people were not dead. Several died during the first half-hour after the accident. There were limbs cut off. We had to be careful when we were moving them. One had her legs three-quarters cut off."
Ambulances approached from a road on the other side of the railway while police moved in with caterpillar-tracked vehicles and took the bodies to the city morgue.
Officials confirmed late Thursday that one of the dead was prominent Montreal lawyer ROBERT JODOM, whose report on bus safety was released only hours earlier by Transport Minister Lucien Lessard.
The report was prepared following Canada's worst road accident, in which a bus plunged into a lake near Eastman, Que., last August claiming 45 lives.
In the national assembly, government House leader Claude Charron said it was "a miracle that none of our colleagues were aboard the plane."
Municipal Affairs Minister Guy Tardif and Liberal assembly member Lucien Caron had reservations on the flight but cancelled them at the last minute.
It was the second mishap involving a Quebecair plane in just over a month. On. Feb. 19, a Boeing 707 charter flight bounced hard on landing at St. Lucia in the Caribbean, and two passengers were injured.
Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1979-03-30