Country star George Canyon mourns loss of friend killed in plane crash
Published Monday, December 16, 2013 6:44PM AST
Last Updated Monday, December 16, 2013 7:07PM AST
Country music star George Canyon is mourning the loss of a close friend who died in a plane crash in Alberta Saturday afternoon.
Shortly before the crash, the pilot had dropped Canyon and his road manager off in Lloydminster for a performance of “The Huron Carole” in the city that evening.
“We’re so thankful, obviously, that George wasn’t on the plane when it went down,” said Canyon’s manager, Jim Cressman, via phone on Monday.
“It’s a tragic situation and circumstance.”
Canyon’s long-time friend, 61-year-old Bill Lovse, was piloting a small Cessna 210 which crashed shortly after taking off from the Lloydminster airport for High River on Saturday.
RCMP said the plane first hit the ground, and then slid into a home. The homeowner was not hurt.
“We have lots of information to gather on the technical aspect of the aircraft, its maintenance history, also the pilot’s history,” said Jon Lee of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
RCMP said weather conditions at the time of the crash were poor. But Lee cautioned that different conditions could affect pilots and planes in different ways, and might not necessarily contribute to a crash.
Lee did note, however, that there was light and drifting snow at the time and visibility was about a kilometre and a half, with a cloud ceiling of 600 metres. Winds were 25 to 35 kilometres per hour and the temperature was -19 C, he said.
Police and an official with the TSB say the aircraft belonged to J.W.L. Engineering.
Canyon's publicist, Anya Wilson said Canyon learned of the tragedy at about dinner time, not long before his concert.
Canyon, who is originally from Nova Scotia’s Pictou County, said in a statement on Sunday that he was a friend of Lovse’s, and that he was devastated to learn about the tragedy.
"I have just lost a dear friend who was not just an aviation buddy, we shared an interest in sports and often played hockey together," Canyon, a resident of High River, said in the statement.
“He and I have flown many times all over the place. I am devastated with the news and my prayers and thoughts are all with his family and friends."
Lovse was married for 32 years and had two daughters in their 20s.
He received his pilots’ licence about ten years ago, and friends in the aviation community say he was an experienced pilot who loved being in the air.
“That was his freedom, that he was up there and he was like an eagle … that he could soar up there and have fun,” Dennis Unguran, a friend of Lovse’s, said.
Despite having just received the tragic news about his friend’s death, Canyon took to the stage Saturday evening for a charity Christmas concert.
“George is a ‘the show must go on type of guy.’ No matter what the circumstances, he doesn’t believe in letting his fans down,” said Cressman.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau and CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu