In a story of miraculous proportions, we can report that Ultimate Distribution‘s Chief, Kelly Jablonski, survived a Vancouver plane crash that has killed at least one.
The plane, carrying nine people at the time, went down outside of the Vancouver International Airport last Thursday.
The aircraft’s pilot reported problems with an oil indicator light immediately after takeoff and turned the flight around approximately 15 minutes after being airborne. Upon approach, the plane took a sharp left and crashed short of the runway on a busy Vancouver highway, hitting a light post and a moving car, according to official reports. The passengers of the vehicle were treated on scene, and the seven passengers of the flight are in critical to stable condition, or have been released from the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).
“It sounded as though it was not critical at the first sign of the problem,” says Bill Yearwood, the Transportation Safety Board spokesman. “And obviously it turned into something pretty tragic.”
Soon after crashing, the plane erupted into flames. Local citizens in the area left their vehicles to rescue passengers from the inflamed aircraft.
“There were people, some Good Samaritans, they went right up to the fuselage and pulled passengers out,” says Peter Johal, a local citizen on scene, interview by CBC News. “Taking the risk, not even knowing if that plane is going to blow up even more.”
Kelly Jablonski, Chief and IASC Board Member, was on board the Beechcraft King Air 100 operated by Northern Thunderbird Air, when it went down. Local Vancouver media talked to Kevin Harris, Ultimate Distribution’s founder and Jablonski’s longtime friend, who detailed Jablonski’s experience.
“He gave it [escaping] 110 per cent. He gave up because he smelled the gas and he caught on fire and he felt the heat and smoke. He felt in his mind that he gave it his best shot to live but he was going to die by burning to death. He blanked out and when he came to, he heard sirens.” Jablonski broke his back in the crash, and Harris revealed details that were candidly shared when the two were reunited in the hospital room, “He was on the [plane’s] floor. His legs weren’t moving because of the spinal injury. He’s a strong-willed person, an incredible athlete.”
A local hero, a stranger nonetheless, rescued Jablonski from the ruble, “He doesn’t know who pulled him out,” said Harris. “I want to make sure at the end of the day, who pulled him out, how it all worked out, that these people are dealt with.”
“He does remember waking up on the concrete outside the burning plane and being doused with water,” remarks Harris.
Jablonski suffered a broken back, minor burns, and smoke inhalation but is expected to make a full recovery.
For the full interview with Kevin Harris go to Frank Luba’s story in The Province.
Our thoughts are with Kelly and all the victims of the crash, including the friends and family of the lost pilot.
Get well soon Kelly!