Northwest plane-crash victim remembered as selfless member of community

Three people killed and one airlifted to hospital after a Cessna crashed north of Smithers on May 4

Lorne Borgal (Facebook photo)

Friends and family who knew Lorne Borgal — one of the three people killed in a May 4 Cessna crash north of Smithers — paint a picture of a selfless nature-lover who treated those around him with respect and kindness.

“His capacity for love of his daughters and grandchildren and me was his testimonial to being a good man,” said Nancy Treiber, Borgal’s wife of 38 years.

The couple were the first ever to get married on the top of Blackcomb Peak in Whistler, B.C. back in 1981.

It was just one example of how embedded Borgal was in the community, having worked as president and CEO of the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation from 1983 to 1989 where he was integral in the construction of Pika’s Restaurant, one of the resort’s first ever on-site restaurants, as well as the Whistler Peak chair.

But Borgal didn’t stay in Whistler forever. From there, he would move into a number of different roles, but his love for skiing and the mountains would eventually bring him to Smithers and Hudson Bay Mountain Resort in 2005, where he worked as the company’s president and CEO for nine years.

It was during this time that he would become a fixture of the Smithers community, said family friend Chrissy Chapman, who worked at Hudson Bay Mountain for 21 years, as she recounted a story Treiber told her about one encounter Borgal had at Whistler while visiting years after he left.

“Lorne was purchasing a ticket … for his daughter [and] the person selling the ticket knew [him] from the ‘80s … ” she said.

“She said to him she was so grateful for when he was there because he took the time and care to speak to the entire team … that’s how he was.”

Treiber adds that Borgal sincerely considered Smithers his home.

“He loved Hudson Bay Mountain, the people, the town itself and its spirit,” said Treiber.

In his off-time, Borgal loved spending time in nature as well as skiing, sailing and riding his Harley Davidson.

He was also a father and grandfather.

For Chapman, one of her fondest memories of Borgal comes from her wedding day a few years back when she got married on the top of Hudson Bay Mountain.

“They brought me up in a snowcat and I was getting out and it was a little bit cold for May,” she said.

“Lorne being the kind man he [was] just jumped to come and get me and walk me to the little hut and make sure that I was safe … that’s just who Lorne was.”

Chapman says she will remember Borgal as a selfless person who would constantly put others before himself.

“Lorne believed in people, even if they wronged him he had the ability to forgive and move forward which a lot of people don’t have … a lot of times I think we could all take that and learn from that.”

As for Treiber, right now she is remembering the good times while also thinking to the future.

“I am dumbfounded we have been handed this slice of life,” she said.

“I realize in one breath how fortunate we have been and in the next how very different … my future will be without him.”

In a Facebook post from May 5, Treiber said she was told the plane flew out from Lakes District Air in Burns Lake and crashed about 200 metres from the Babine River in a canyon.

Two other people were also killed in the crash, with one survivor airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver.

The cause of the crash and the identity of the individual airlifted to hospital are still unknown.

A press release from Sunday morning said that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the site of the crash to “gather information and assess the occurrence.”

The RCMP is also investigating.

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