The primary reason for the plane crash was that the pilot suffered a heart attack and died mid air, leaving the controls to an inexperienced passenger. The passenger opted to continue flying until the fuel ran out, at least to buy time while using the radio to signal for help.
Brian was on his way to meet his father in Canada where he worked. He boarded a single engine Cessna 406 plane as the sole passenger. The pilot directed him to take the co-pilot’s seat before takeoff. After covering some distance, the pilot started to explain some of the plane’s controls to Brian and even allowed the boy to work the pedals and steer the plane. During the lesson the pilot suffered sharp pains from his left shoulder, signs of an imminent heart attack, but he attributed the pain to aging. The heart attack occurred, finally leading to the pilot’s death.
Brian, who was left to his own devices, tried to communicate using the plane’s radio. He eventually weighed his options for survival and opted to let the plane fly until it ran out of fuel before trying a crash landing.