We were driving by the Vancouver airport about 4 pm, just at the same time that a small Cessna took off from the airport and promptly crashed into an apartment building near the airport, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the building (shown in the photo on the right.)
Fortunately, the plane didn't catch fire and although the pilot was killed, the two people inside the apartment were only injured, one seriously. It could have been a lot worse. (Link to the Globe and Mail story)
As we continued into Vancouver, we saw a couple of fire trucks race by us on the other side of the road. Then we ran into seven or eight ambulances. We had to keep pulling over because the southbound lanes that the ambulances were travelling in were completely filled with Friday afternoon traffic and it was tough for them to get through.
I suspect that if we had been just a few minutes later, we might not have been able to continue through on that road. Traffic for a long way around the site was shut down for awhile until the police could figure out just how bad things were.
The map below shows where the plane hit the apartment. We were driving north on Hwy 99 at the time.
I caught a bit of the live coverage on the TV here at the hotel later, and I've got to give credit to the supper-hour news folks. They were all valiantly working overtime to get as much information as possible out as quickly as possible. It reminded me of the movie Broadcast News, when William Hurt steps in to anchor the special coverage for some crisis in the middle East. Today's events might not have been as dramatic, but I bet they got the hearts in newsrooms across the city beating pretty good.