Tributes are flowing for a Canadian pilot who was killed in Australia on New Year’s Eve in a seaplane crash that also claimed the lives of a prominent British businessman and his family.
Tour company Sydney Seaplanes said Gareth Morgan, 44, originally from North Vancouver, British Columbia, was piloting the plane that crashed Sunday afternoon.
In a statement released on Monday, Sydney Seaplanes CEO Aaron Shaw described Morgan as an “extremely experienced pilot” with more than 10,000 hours of flight time, 9,000 of which was spent flying seaplanes.
“On a personal level, he was deeply respected and liked by me and all of the team here as a man and as a pilot,” Shaw said. “He flew my family and I to Palm Beach just before Christmas. We are devastated by his loss.”
Morgan had first worked with Sydney Seaplanes from 2011 to 2014. After flying in the Maldives for three years, Shaw said Morgan returned to work for the company in May.
“I have spoken to Gareth’s parents, who live in Canada and offered our deepest sympathies and we will support them in any way we can,” Shaw said.
Morgan’s friends described him as a devout Christian and “a solid person” with a passion for flight.
“He was a devout Christian and a good man with a beautiful soul,” wrote Luke Thornley in a Facebook page created in memory of Morgan. “Gareth leaves behind a loving family, precious friends and all those whom he had a positive impact on through-out his life. ”
Brett Starling described Morgan as a man who “always exemplified true kindness, gentleness and humility.”
Officials with the New South Wales Police said Monday that Compass Group CEO Richard Cousins, 58, his fiancée Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, and his two sons Edward Cousins, 23, and William Cousins, 25, were also killed.
Cousins had recently been recognized by the Harvard Business Review for his performance as CEO of the multinational catering company. The 58-year-old planned to step down from his post in March.
Officials said the single-engine plane sank rapidly after crashing into the Hawkesbury River. The bodies have been recovered.
Sydney Seaplanes has suspended its flights as the crash is investigated.
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press