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The story tucked behind the crash of a medical plane

For years, Marty Anderson talked about the drama surrounding the birth of his first daughter with his family and some close friends. Twenty-five years later, he is talking about it publicly.
Marty Anderson with daughter Dr. Kirsten Anderson
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​Marty Anderson with his daughter, Dr. Kirsten Anderson

The 25th anniversary seemed like a natural milestone to reflect on what happened and what became of everything. Anderson says it all comes down to what seemed like a little decision at the time having such big consequences later.

Marty’s daughter, Kirsten, was born seven weeks premature and spent the first weeks of her life in an incubator struggling to get enough oxygen. Something went wrong in the second week of January and her oxygen intake began to deteriorate. The decision was made to make a medical emergency trip from the Prince George hospital, where she had been born, to BC Children’s Hospital for more specialized care. 

“I have never felt so helpless,” says Anderson, of the evening of January 10, 1995, as he watched the air ambulance Lear jet take off from Prince George carrying his wife and his baby to Vancouver. 

As mother, daughter, paramedics and crew flew to Vancouver, they received a call that a mother-to-be in Haida Gwaii needed a medical air evacuation to Vancouver for complications with her pregnancy. After a discussion about rerouting the flight to stop in Haida Gwaii, the decision was made to keep flying to BC Children's Hospital, and then refuel and head back to Haida Gwaii. 

Baby Kirsten was delivered to BC Children's Hospital, and the plane that flew her took off for Haida Gwaii. As they approached Masset the plane’s altimeter failed and the plane crashed into the ocean, killing everyone aboard: paramedics Andreas Goedicke and Wendy Thompson, doctor Jeffrey Dolph and pilots Dan Jorgenson and Geir Zinke.

“They perished in the ocean off Masset during a medical air evacuation January 11, 1995. They lost their lives in the service of humanity,” reads a plaque on the Masset hospital.

Marty and his wife didn’t know what happened until the Transportation Safety Board contacted them for intensive interviews about what was observed on the plane, about the crew, anything to give them an idea of what may have led to the crash. They requested copies of his wife’s photos she had taken aboard the plane.

“My wife remembers how the paramedic was the sweetest lady, the nicest.”

The haunting memory of what happened stayed with the family and during the years Marty has dug for information about the plane and what happened that fateful day.

As for his sick baby daughter, she began to recover as soon as she reached BC Children's Hospital. The doctors think the change in altitude experienced on the flight prompted her lungs to start functioning properly. 

Marty writes, “To the family and friends of those lost in this tragedy, my heart goes out to you all. To the doctors, paramedics, medical teams, flight crews and personnel that work so hard to keep us healthy, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all heroes to me.”

In honour of Infant Transport Team paramedic Andreas Goedickie, paramedic Wendy Thompson and doctor Jeffery Dolph and their pilots, Marty presents his daughter, Doctor Kirsten Anderson, currently completing her residency on Vancouver Island.
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