Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse on July 16. Ryan Gandy, the spouse of a Vancouver geologist killed in a plane crash near Mayo Lake last year, is suing Alkan Air. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Spouse of geologist killed in 2019 plane crash sues Alkan Air

The spouse of a Vancouver geologist killed in a plane crash near Mayo Lake last year is suing Alkan Air.

Ryan Gandy filed a statement of claim to the Yukon Supreme Court on July 10, alleging that the negligence of the pilot — and, by extension, the airline — led to the Aug. 6, 2019 crash that killed Julia Lane.

Lane, 33, along with pilot Shawn Thomas Kitchen, a 24-year-old from Whitehorse, both died after the small aircraft they were flying in crashed into the side of a mountain south of Keno City. The pair had departed from Rackla, a gold project about 150 kilometres northeast of Mayo, and were en route to the village at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit doesn’t name Kitchen but refers to him as “the Pilot.”

“Alkan and the Pilot owed a duty of care to Ms. Lane to ensure that the Aircraft was operated safely,” the statement of claim reads, alleging that both failed to meet that duty.

Alkan’s negligence, the lawsuit claims, includes “failing to install (a) ground proximity or terrain avoidance warning system in the Aircraft,” “failing to adequately train the pilot on mountain flying” and “failing to properly monitor and/or review weather information.”

The pilot’s alleged negligence, meanwhile, includes “failing to monitor and assess the terrain en route,” “flying into an area of reduced visibility,” “flying into a box canyon,” “flying the aircraft into a situation where the aircraft lacked the performance capabilities to out climb and avoid hazardous terrain” and “failing to maintain control of the Aircraft.”

Gandy as well as Lane’s parents have suffered loss and damage as a result of Lane’s death, the statement of claim says.

The lawsuit is seeking damages including the loss of financial support and valuable services, reduced value of inheritance, statutory damages for grief and loss of guidance, care and companionship, special damages including funeral expenses and travelling and counselling costs, and legal costs.

Neither Gandy nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.

In an email, Alkan Air president and CEO Wendy Tayler acknowledged that a lawsuit had “been initiated with respect to the tragic incident,” but wrote that as “this is now a matter before the courts, it is not appropriate for Alkan Air to publicly comment on the circumstances of the incident or any of the related issues.”

She added that the airline has “been fully cooperative with the Transportation Safety Board investigators” and “(continues) to work hard to prioritize safety for all of our employees and passengers.”

Alkan had not yet filed a statement of defence as of July 21.

Contact Jackie Hong at

Yukon courts