Lauren Sewell and Dallas Smith died when the small plane they were travelling in crashed near Kelowna in August 2012. (File photo)

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

An aviation-safety campaign spurred in large part by the persistence of a grieving father has transitioned into an official program.

Greg Sewell said this week that he hopes the story that led to the launch of the General Aviation Safety Program (GASP) – a story that began in 2012, with the tragic death of his daughter Lauren and her boyfriend Dallas Smith – “will serve as an inspiration to all to never give up hope.”

“The campaign was initially only three years, so we didn’t really know where it was going to go,” Sewell said Friday (Sept. 25).

“I’m pleased that it turned into a program.

“I haven’t achieved my ultimate goal,” Sewell added. “But, getting closer.”

Sewell and his wife Fran – South Surrey residents up until approximately two years ago, when they moved to the Okanagan – have been pushing for improvements to aviation safety for eight years, ever since the the private Piper Twin Comanche that Lauren and Smith were travelling in crashed at the Brenda Mines site near Kelowna on Aug. 13, 2012.

READ MORE: Second victim of Peachland plane crash named

Smith – who was also raised on the Semiahmoo Peninsula – died on impact; Lauren, 24, suffered an unsurvivable head injury and died the next day.

The coroner told the Sewells that Lauren would have likely survived had she been wearing a shoulder harness, and the couple initially focused their efforts on getting Transport Canada to mandate the use of such devices in older planes.

Their focus shifted to education in 2017, and Greg Sewell was invited to be part of a task force charged with tracking the progress of a three-year General Aviation Safety Campaign (GASC).

Following the campaign’s launch in June of that year, Sewell described it as “a good start… promising” – an effort that he felt had better potential to impact safety reform in the industry.

READ MORE: Daughter’s memory ‘could save countless lives’

A report shared with Sewell and other campaign stakeholders this week states that the transition to a program became official on June 1.

Its purpose, the report states, is to “continuously improve and promote general aviation safety” through the development and implementation of promotional tools and educational materials; development and implementation of safety enhancements; and, engagement and collaboration with the general aviation community, organizations and associations.

Objectives include to significantly reduce the total number of general aviation accidents; identify and address trends; promote and encourage a safety culture; and continue collaboration with general aviation organizations and associations.

“Nothing concrete has been established yet,” Sewell noted. “We’ll be working on these things and hopefully changes will come out of this.”

His ultimate goal, however, continues to be on improving safety in older planes, which he said “are allowed to continue to fly until they are either retired or fall apart or fall out of the sky.”

While he’s been advised that changes aimed at making retrofitting the planes easier to achieve are “in the works,” Sewell said he hasn’t given up on seeing shoulder harnesses mandated.

“It’s a grandfathering clause that just isn’t right,” Sewell said. “I will continue to push for it.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

aviationSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Greg Sewell says he is pleased with the launch of the General Aviation Safety Program, a federal program that transitioned from a campaign based on the tragic circumstances that killed his daughter and her boyfriend in 2012. (Tracy Holmes file photo)

Just Posted

An electrical vehicle charging station on Fort St. across from the Hope Legion appears to have suffered extensive damage. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Electric vehicle charging station in Hope vandalized

Cables were cut to all four charging stations at a soon-to-be-opened lot on Fort St.

Kastor Hansen gets the right timing on the double-Dutch ropes, cheered on by principal, Bruce Becker. For the past 10 years, Becker has been Silver Creek Elementary’s principal, he is now moving on to become principal at Coquihalla Elementary School. (Barry Stewart/Hope Standard)
Bruce Becker to be Coquihalla Elementary’s new principal, leaving role at Silver Creek open

Longtime SD78 educators Monique Gratrix and Peter Flynn are retiring

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

AdvantageHOPE is working with Boston Pizza to find a franchisee for a Hope location. (Facebook/AdvantageHOPE photo)
Boston Pizza eyeing Hope for new location

With over 395 locations Canada-wide, company is looking to expand to Hope

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read