PORT MOODY — The BC Coroners Service has released the identity of the Port Moody man killed in a plane crash last weekend in Vernon.
Karim Makalai, 53, was a passenger in a twin engine Piper that crashed in a field shortly after takeoff from the Vernon airport Saturday afternoon.
According to The Vancouver Sun, Makalai was a software engineer and the son of a cousin to Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer.
The other man, who was the pilot of the doomed plane, was from Kelowna.
Jaffer told The Vancouver Sun the two men "just went for a spin" to Vernon on Saturday and had planned to return to Kelowna the same day for a barbecue.
Jaffer described Makalai, who had no children, as a "silent rock" in the family.
"We're feeling his loss terribly. Whenever there was a job to be done, he'd just go do it. If anything happened in the family, he was the organizer who quietly did everything. We were very close and I'd see him on many occasions."
Capt. Dan Walker of the Vernon Fire Department said the plane had just fuelled up and had taken off southbound from the Vernon airport when it listed to the left and struck a few trees as it cartwheeled into Marshall's Field, a popular soccer pitch. Its wing then clipped a park bench, flinging aside a bicycle leaning against it, while narrowly missing its owner.
The BC Coroners Service, the RCMP and the Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the crash.