Logan Spence, front, Gage Spence, back, their father Darren Spence and friend Dawson Pentecost died in a plane crash near Waskada on Feb. 10, 2013. The Transportation Safety Board has yet to release the final report into the cause of the crash. (FILE PHOTO)
The cause of a deadly plane crash that claimed four lives and left Waskada devastated remains unknown as the village marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic event.
On Feb. 10, 2013, Darren Spence, 37, a crop duster based in southwestern Manitoba, was at the controls of the plane when it crashed just north of Waskada, killing him, his sons — 10-year-old Gage and nine-year-old Logan — and a friend of the boys, nine-year-old Dawson Pentecost.
Waskada Mayor Gary Williams said the four are not forgotten.
"They have been missed," he said.
Reminders of just how much the four were loved filled the pages of local papers in the southwest corner of the province this week — some from family, some from friends.
Four headstones sit in the community’s cemetery, each with a photo, each decorated with one of their passions.
On Darren’s headstone, a plane. A nod to his love and experience flying the skies.
Spence, who was involved in a family crop-spraying business, was flying his Cessna 210 on that tragic day.
In the rink, three framed hockey sweaters, one for each of the boys who played on the atom hockey team at the time, are on display.
"They were all a big part of our community and it’s been tough, but the sports teams are trying to carry on and the kids at school are doing the same," Williams said.
Jason Wickham, who coaches the team the boys would have been on, said the teammates have been resilient through the process.
"It’s been tough, but the kids have done as well as expected," he said.
At times, stories involving Gage, Logan and Dawson are thrown around the dressing room as if the trio was just late getting to the rink that day to lace up their skates and play with their friends.
"They all still think of them," Wickham said. "The one-year (anniversary) was a difficult day for sure. It’s weird not seeing them around because they were people that you saw every day. They were that active in town and the two boys were going to be just like their dad."
On social media sites, love poured in to a Facebook page still open under Darren’s name.
Colourful collages of the quartet adorned the page.
"A year ago today, I remember it unfortunately so clearly. My heart was ripped from my chest, four amazing people taken from this world too soon," wrote Amanda Barbeau.
Eight days after the crash, more than 1,300 friends, family and community members descended on Waskada for the funerals.
A week earlier, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada deployed a team of investigators to the site.
According to a TSB spokesman, there has been no formal report filed for the crash yet.
A TSB investigation has three phases: the field phase where the wreckage site is examined and witnesses are interviewed; the examination and analysis phase where records and tests are performed on the aircraft in a laboratory; and the report phase.
The spokesman said it’s difficult to predict timelines as each individual case is different.
"The TSB aims to publish investigation reports as quickly as possible, however, the agency takes the time necessary to do a quality investigation and to produce a report that will advance safety and meet the expectations of the Canadian public and the transportation industry," the spokesman said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 12, 2014