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Province sorry for not notifying families of plane wreckage removal

The Alberta government has apologized for the disappearance of a plane wreckage north of Whitecourt. The Cessna 180 was en route from Grande Prairie to Edmonton for a medical emergency on November 22, 1953 when it crashed.

All three people on board were all killed, and the wreckage had become part of a memorial site for the pilot, doctor and patient. However, the Rotary Club members who had been keeping up the gravesite discovered it missing earlier this summer.

Department spokesperson Matt Dykstra tells the Canadian Press the plane was cleaned up by Alberta Environment and Parks last fall. He says it was due to safety reasons, but admits the families of the three men should have been consulted.

“There was a protective notation on the location for the memorial, but not the debris,” he explains.

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“That was a mistake,” he adds. “We’re very sorry this happened.”

In a statement, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne MLA Oneil Carlier says the province hopes to fix the mistake.

“My heart goes out to them, and I understand how this would have impacted them. I’ll be reaching out to the families to see how I can make this right, and how the memories of the victims can best be respected.”

In a previous interview with the Edmonton Journal, one family member said the wreckage had become a part of the memorial, and ashes had been spread over it. It initially took nine months for the crash site to be found by accident.

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