PoCo residents identified as victims in midair collision

Elsa and Ryan Wilk died when their floatplane collided midair with another floatplane near Ketchikan, Alaska

A 37-year-old Port Coquitlam resident and her American husband were among six people killed in a midair crash near Ketchikan, Alaska, Monday. 

Alaska State Troopers released the names of Elsa Wilk, 37, as a resident of Richmond, and Ryan Wilk, 39, as an American from Utah. But sources close to the couple have since confirmed the two were residents of Port Coquitlam.

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The floatplanes were carrying tourists from a cruise ship when they collided over 3,000 feet in the air. 

One of the planes was a single-engine de Havilland Otter operated by Taquan Air and was returning from a wilderness tour sold through Princess Cruises of the Misty Fjords, the company said.

It was carrying 10 guests from the Royal Princess and a pilot, who were all Americans, the statement said.

The other plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was operating an independent flight tour carrying a pilot and four guests, including the Wilks, one Australian and another American.

State troopers said the Australian was 56-year-old Simon Bodie. The other American victims were identified as 46-year-old pilot Randy Sullivan from Ketchikan, 62-year-old Cassandra Webb and 46-year-old Louis Botha, whom CBC News has reported as Elsa Wilk's brother. The pilot and nine passengers on the Otter were able to make their way to shore, where they were rescued and taken to hospital, Kahle said.

The survivors were in fair or good condition, said Marty West, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Local emergency responders worked with state and federal agencies and private vessels to help rescue and recover victims.

The cruise ship had left Vancouver for Anchorage on Saturday and is scheduled to return on May 25.

Elsa Wilk was a third-degree blackbelt in Taekwondo who at one point trained at the Pacific Rim Taekwondo Institute in Coquitlam and Triumph Taekwondo Club in Port Coquitlam. Until last year, she worked as a marketing director for the CryptoKitties blockchain game, but lately had been working as a freelance communications person.

“She worked her ass off,” said a family friend who did not want to be identified, “She worked, worked, worked.”

The couple first met in Vancouver a few years ago after Ryan Wilk was hired by the Vancouver-based digital security start-up NuData.

"Ryan was so happy with Elsa," said close friend Karisse Hendrick, who said everyone close to the couple was still coming to terms with their death. "It’s really hitting all of us hard."

Ryan Wilk was an influential name in the crypto-security community, according to several collleagues, and became the face of the firm as it was bought out by MasterCard in 2017.

“It is with deep shock and sadness that we must share that Ryan Wilk and his wife Elsa have passed away following a tragic plane accident whilst on holiday,” wrote a spokesperson for MasterCard. 

“We extend our most heartfelt sympathies to Ryan’s family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Global Affairs Canada says Canadian consular officials in Seattle were working with local authorities to gather more information and provide assistance as needed. 

— With files from the Canadian and Associated Press


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