Pilot Denny Loree (R), who is from the Nanton, AB area, is shown with his small plane. Loree was killed May 12, 2012 in a mid-air collision between two small planes near St. Brieux, SK.
Credits: FAMILY PHOTO
Eric Donovan, 38, his son Wade, 11, and pilot Danny Loree, 59, were killed when the Piper PA-28 they were travelling in collided mid-air with an amphibious Lake LA-4.
Two people in the Lake LA-4, a man and a woman believed to be from Regina, Sask., were also killed.
The Piper, piloted by Loree, was approaching a landing strip near St. Brieux, SK, so Eric, a grain farmer who also ran a trucking business, could pick up a part for his air seeder.
Neighbours and longtime friends, Loree offered to fly Eric to St. Brieux so he wouldn't have to make the 800 km drive, said Eric's cousin, Ian Donaovan, a Wildrose MLA in the riding of Little Bow.
"They left at 6:15 a.m. from Mossleigh and hopefully they were going to be back by noon," Ian said.
Investigators found debris from the crash spread over several kilometres.
One plane was found in a swampy area surrounded by trees, the other in a wooded swamp about 5 km away.
Several people in the small town of St. Brieux witnessed the crash.
"Denny was a very experienced and good pilot so I know there would have been no errors on his end," Ian said.
"It sounds like they were coming in about (5 km) away from the factory to commit to land and collided with another plane.
"From what I understand it doesn't look like it was Denny's fault."
With nearly 10 years experience, Loree was a "pretty accomplished" pilot with more than 1,000 hours in the air, said his son, Mackenzie Loree, 28.
"He was an excellent pilot," he said. "It's just such a tragedy.
"It's tough but we have a great support network of family and friends through the community.
"It's that good small-town mentality where everyone comes together."
Married with three other children, Eric grew up in Mossleigh and built a house about two years ago just kilometres from where he was raised.
"We farmed together until eight years ago," Ian said. "A lot of people thought we were brothers just because we did so much together -- we played hockey together, we played baseball together.
"The community is pulling together, there's lots of food being delivered and we're organizing to get the seeding done on Wednesday for both Denny and Eric because neither was done seeding.
"If the situations were changed they'd be doing the same for anyone else."