Plane crashes in Yarmouth cemetery

TC Media
Published on March 3, 2014

The pilot of this Cessna airplane was not seriously injured when the plane crashed into a tree in a Yarmouth County cemetery on Sunday morning, March 2.
Tina Comeau photo/Yarmouth Vanguard

YARMOUTH - The pilot of an airplane that crashed into a tree in an Arcadia cemetery on Sunday morning says deteriorating weather conditions caused him to have to attempt an emergency landing.

Yarmouth resident Dave Arenburg, 54, had been in the air on the morning of March 2 doing some touch and go’s from the Yarmouth airport when the weather led to what he described as carburetor icing in the engine.

He says he was a short distance from the airport when he lost engine power. Familiar with the area he was in, he decided to attempt to land his Cessna in a field in Arcadia.

“I kept gliding,” he told the Yarmouth Vanguard, but he says he knew he wasn’t going to be able to make the field he was aiming for, or even a back-up on, so instead he decided to aim for sometrees, saying he knew he’d be better off to hit the trees at a slower speed than the ground at a faster one.

And so it was a tree in the Arcadia Cemetery on the Kinney Hill Road in Yarmouth County that he crashed landed into.

Asked if he was panicked as all of this was happening, Arenburg said he wasn’t.

“What happens is all of your training just kicks in,” he said.

Arenburg, a local businessman whom many know as the owner of the local Tim Hortons franchise, has been flying for almost 30 years. He calls it a hobby and says the incident that occurred to him on Sunday morning “a humbling one” for a pilot. 

“But they say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing,” he said.

In this case, Arenburg was able to climb down out of the plane by use of a ladder, with the assistance of the fire department. He told the Vanguard he would like to tell the local resident who called for help on his behalf, along with the fire department, EHS and the RCMP who came to his about, about how appreciative he is for their help.

He says he suffered no injuries, with the exception of some chemical burns.

It was approximately 11:30 a.m. when the Yarmouth County RCMP, Emergency Health Services (EHS) and the Yarmouth FireDepartment received a call that a Cessna airplane had crashed near Kinney Road in Arcadia.

Although the RCMP was on the scene to keep the area secure on Sunday morning, Sergeant Michel Lacroix said the RCMP does not investigate incidents of this nature. Instead the matter would be turned over to the Transportation Safety Board to investigate.

"We're trying to get in contact with them," Lacroix said late Sunday morning. He expected investigators to visit the scene Monday, if they weren't able to come earlier.

The RCMP blocked off the road to traffic on Sunday morning. The Kinney Hill Road is a short road that branches off from the main traffic arteries on both ends. Later in the day the road was accessible to local traffic, as there are many homes on the road. The public, however, would not have access to the cemetery until the investigation was complete.

The cemetery the airplane crashed into is an old one. There are grave stones dating back over 100 years. The cemetery's caregiver said that knowing the pilot is okay, he was concerned about how the airplane will be removed without causing damage to the cemetery. He also wondered if any fuel had leaked.

The airplane wasn't expected to be removed until the investigation is completed.