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Pilot's family sets up trust

YVR crash victim described as 'fantastic father, husband, son'

THE family of a North Vancouver pilot who perished following a fiery crash last week has set up a trust fund for his 16-month-old daughter.

Luc Fortin, 44, was one of nine people pulled from a burning aircraft Thursday afternoon after it hit the ground on Russ Baker Way in Richmond. Fortin was badly burned and succumbed to his injuries hours later while doctors fought to save him at Vancouver General Hospital. Six others remain in hospital, one in intensive care.

On Saturday, Fortin's wife Dagne, daughter Katelyn, parents and father-in-law announced the trust fund and thanked all the people who tried to help Fortin, first officer Matt Robic, and the seven passengers.

"Our family would like to thank the selfless efforts and heroic actions of the Good Samaritans and first responders who came to the aid of the passengers and crew of that aircraft," said John Rayson, Fortin's father-in-law. "He was a fantastic father, husband, son and son-in-law. Luc loved Katelyn more than we can describe."

With Katelyn on her lap, Fortin's wife wasn't able to say much to the assembled media.

"Katelyn's dad will be missed a lot," she said. "He was a good man."

Fortin was also an experienced pilot with 14,000 hours logged in the cockpit.

Just after 4 p.m. Oct. 27, Fortin was completing takeoff from Vancouver International Airport in a twin-engined Beechcraft King Air 100 bound for Kelowna when he reported what seemed to be a minor leak in the plane's port engine and decided to return to the airport. The crew did not declare an emergency, and according to Transportation Safety Board officials, the King Air looked set for a routine landing.

"It appeared to be, up until the last seconds, a normal approach," said the TSB's Bill Yearwood.

The board is now investigating what caused the plane suddenly to bank, lose altitude and strike a street light and a car before crashing onto the road and bursting into flames.

In a written statement, Northern Thunderbird Air also praised the passersby who rushed to help rescue the plane's occupants.

"Northern Thunderbird Air is deeply moved by the selfless action and quick thinking of the many bystanders who assisted with saving the lives of our passengers and crew of NTA 204. Because of your heroic actions, all on board left the scene alive."

The airline also thanked the firefighters, paramedics and hospital staff.

"Without all of you this tragic accident could have been so much worse."

Donations for the Dagne and Katelyn Trust Fund should be sent to TD Canada Trust, bank 004, transit 9400, account number 6432293; Informal Trust Account Holder: Janet Archibald & Ryan Van Haren.