THUNDER BAY – Eight-time Scotties skip Krista McCarville says she’s never been more frightened in her life.
The eight-time Northern Ontario women’s curling champion, her teammate Ashley Sippala and their coach, two-time world curling champion Rick Lang, were headed home from the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. on Monday, prepared for a short hop from Dryden to Sioux Lookout, then on to Thunder Bay, when near disaster struck.
“We were getting ready to take off and the flight just started to gain some speed. The next thing I knew, I just looked and we were taking a sharp turn on the runway and I could tell we were headed toward the snow bank,” said McCarville, who eventually returned home late Monday night, driving a portion of the way with her brother-in-law and the rest of the way with Sippala’s in-laws.
“My immediate reaction was basically to just try to brace myself for hitting the snowbank.”
The Bearskin Airlines flight, which originated in Kenora, had six passengers and two crew aboard.
McCarville said they spent about 20 minutes on the plane after the crash, while paramedics tended to an injury to Lang’s hand, caused when the propeller exploded and shards pierced through the plane’s hull.
He was taken to hospital for treatment, released and made it home on Tuesday.
McCarville said reality didn’t really sink in right away, adding Monday night was mostly a blur as she came to grips with what had happened.
“I was just in so much shock of what had happened and the thoughts going through my head and the scare of it all. It was very scary and I was shaking quite a bit,” McCarville said on Tuesday, after spending the day teaching her students at Holy Family School.
“You take flights all the time and you never think something like that would ever happen, but it did.”
After being allowed to leave the plane, the passengers and crew were taken into the terminal, and eventually they were cleared to leave.
“We were in the terminal for a couple of hours anyway, just getting checked out and making sure everyone was OK,” she said.
McCarville, Sippala and Lang had originally booked flights home on Saturday, but instead played well enough at the Scotties to make the 3-4 Page Playoff and switched their flight until Monday.
“We were not thinking it would ever end this way,” McCarville said.
She added she was thankful to be able to return home to her husband and two children, and then back to school to teach to keep her minds off the events of Monday afternoon.
“I was really excited to see the kids and the staff and I knew it would be good distraction,” McCarville said.
But as much as she’s trying to put it out of her mind, the moment keeps replaying itself over and over again.
“We’re still shaken up and trying to get through with how we feel,” McCarville said.
The City of Dryden on Tuesday said it activated the emergency response plan after the crash occurred, at approximately 4:05 p.m. on Monday. After removing the aircraft and an inspection of the runway for debris, the airport was reopened approximately six hours later.
“Our emergency response plan was executed successfully in response to this incident. The annual and ongoing Emergency Management Training that the City undertakes enabled us to effectively and efficiently respond to this incident. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who responded and provided care,” said city treasurer Steven Lansdell-Roll in a release.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.