Ladies frontman survives plane crash
BANCROFT – Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson and three others are “really lucky” to have survived a float-plane crash north of Bancroft Sunday, officials say.
Robertson’s plane went down in the woods north of Bancroft early Sunday afternoon.
“Everyone is fine and that is the important thing,” said Adam Smith, a spokesman for the band, said Sunday night in an e-mail to The Intelligencer. “That’s all the comment we have at this time.”
Sgt. Jeff MacKinnon of Bancroft OPP said the crash happened near Baptiste Lake, about 10 minutes north of Bancroft and one of the North Hastings district’s most popular cottage areas.
“At 12:30 p.m. a Cessna 206 was taking off from Baptiste Lake, lost airspeed and entered a wooded area west of the lake,” Sgt. Jeff MacKinnon of Bancroft OPP said in a telephone interview.
He said the plane was totaled but all four adults managed to walk out of the woods and soon reported the crash.
“They got out and then called it in,” said MacKinnon.
MacKinnon said police aren’t releasing any further details, including the names of the plane’s occupants, because the investigation is now being headed by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board.
Sources in the area, however, said Robertson was piloting his own plane.
“They’re all really lucky to get out of there. I think there was somebody on their side,” said Brian Sears, deputy fire chief for Herschel Ward of the Municipality of Hastings Highlands.
“They could smell the fuel, so they didn’t waste any time getting out of it.”
He said the crash happened about a kilometre from the nearest road, with the plane breaking trees on its way to the ground.
“He’d clipped one a bit farther back from there (the crash site). It hit some more maples, and the maples just leaned down and uprooted, and from the looks of it cushioned it from any real heavy blow,” said Sears.
“She’s on her nose up against the trees. One pontoon is split right back underneath it.
“I’ve left some guys there because there was quite a bit of fuel leaking,” he said. “We plugged it up as much as we could.”
Sears said Robertson appeared to be doing well, and visited the site at least once after the forced landing.
“He came over and brought some water and pop over for the guys,” said Sears.
Robertson doubles as host of the Ed’s Up television show on Outdoor Life Network Canada. He’s a well-known, well-liked cottager in the area.
Nearby resident Gord Peel, who said he has known Robertson for about 10 years, said he arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after the crash. Peel said the passengers were Robertson’s wife, Natalie, and their friends Julie and Jeff Jones.
“There was some gusting wind up here today,” Peel told The Intelligencer. “He got up, and he got into a stall.”
Following the stall, he said, Robertson managed to “set the plane straight down into the trees. It hung up into a large tree, nose down, and its nose is resting on the ground.
“The doors were jammed; they couldn’t get out. They had to get out through a window. They didn’t even have a scratch. They were just more in shock than anything.”
He said he found the four friends walking on a road, somewhat shaken but unharmed.
Belleville’s Shirley and Willard Wasson were surprised to receive a phone call from Peel Sunday.
Shirley Wasson said their acquaintance called at around 1:30 p.m. to report the plane had crashed on the Wassons’ 80-acre property.
Her husband said he’d been told the plane could not be removed until authorities had investigated the crash.
Transportation Safety Board staff, meanwhile, had not returned phone calls by press time Sunday.
Deborah Baxter is a spokeswoman for Transport Canada, which also investigates aviation incidents.
“We have not received a report on this accident, so if it was a private plane and nobody was hurt … we may not get a report until later,” Baxter said Sunday evening.
Ladies frontman survives plane crash