EDITORIAL: Too long a wait for safer travels

For safety’s sake, changes should come quicker

Change often happens following tragedy, so it’s little surprise the pattern repeated itself late last month, with word that a plane crash that killed two Semiahmoo Peninsula natives in 2012 has spurred a three-year campaign aimed at boosting aviation safety in the private sector.

The General Aviation Safety Campaign, funded by Transport Canada, aims to educate those in the industry – pilots, passengers and the general public alike – on the safety regulations already in place and the risks involved in the travel mode.

It’s also hoped to enhance collaboration on safety strategies and boost public confidence in civil aviation, according to officials.

As the father of one of the victims told Peace Arch News this week, the campaign – announced in Kelowna on June 24 – does have the potential to save lives.

It is disappointing, however, that it took so long before Greg Sewell – and others impacted by similar tragedies – got to see any glimmer of hope for change following his daughter’s death.

Nothing happens overnight, this is a well-known fact, and that is generally with good reason. Rash decisions rarely produce positive results.

But next month will mark the five-year anniversary of the crash near Brenda Mines that took the life of 24-year-old Lauren Sewell and her boyfriend Dallas Smith, 30. The pair were heading home to the Lower Mainland in a dual-engine, four-seater when the plane went down.

Smith died on impact; Sewell, who doctors said suffered an “unsurvivable” head injury, died the following day.

Greg Sewell and his wife Fran have been pushing for legislative changes in the industry since shortly after their daughter died, fuelled by the knowledge she would have likely survived had the plane she and Smith were in been equipped with shoulder harnesses. They want to see such safety measures mandated, and the new campaign hasn’t quelled that drive.

As a member of a task force charged with monitoring the new campaign’s progress and effectiveness, the father is hopeful education will make a difference.

But it remains to be seen if that will be the case. By the time the campaign wraps up, it will have been eight years since the tragedy that sparked it.

That’s too long to wait, especially when lives remain at stake.