Plane crash kills 3 Minnesotans on Ontario fishing trip

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2014 - 9:05 AM

Three northern Minnesota outdoors lovers who were on a fishing trip in Canada died when their Cessna 182 float plane crashed on the shore of a lake north of Minnesota, officials said.

Killed Friday afternoon were Nikolas I. Rajala, 41, his wife, Teresa N. Rajala, 40, and friend Lynn M. Bohanon, 36, all of Grand Rapids.

Two of the occupants were found dead at the scene. The third was found seriously injured and died later, Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Dean Barclay said. A search and rescue squad parachuted in from a plane circling above to perform first aid, he said.

Canadian officials learned of the crash when an emergency locator transmitter signaled, Barclay said. Transport Canada was investigating the crash.

Itasca County Commissioner Rusty Eichorn said he’d been dating Bohanon for six years. They were both pilots and co-owned a couple of planes together and had flown to the high arctic, he said. They had sold the Cessna to Nik Rajala in 2011, he said, and Rajala was the pilot on Friday.

Eichorn said Bohanon, a pharmacist, was an avid outdoorswoman who sky-dived and hunted deer and moose, shooting a record-class moose in Minnesota in 2010.

Teresa Rajala was a retail sales clerk and a house cleaner who had a passion for horses and “could turn her garden into the best meals in the world,” said friend Tina Kane. “She was always canning and cooking from her amazing garden.”

Nik Rajala was a self-employed logger who had been flying since high school, Eichorn said. Nik Rajala flew the plane, his pride and joy, to Canada more than a dozen times last summer and had flown it to Montana to hunt last fall, Eichorn said.

Eichorn said he had very few details about the crash. Nik Rajala “was a good friend, an accomplished pilot. Whatever happened is catastrophic,” Eichorn said. “It happens fast, and you don’t believe it … something went sideways on landing … it fades to black.”

Eichorn said Bohanon got her pilot’s license about six years ago, and he remembers meeting her at the airport to give her a hug after she soloed around Grand Rapids.

“I loved her dearly. She died doing something that she loved to do, which is flying and fishing,” he said.

The group was staying at an area fishing lodge and traveling from Crow Lake to Chappie Lake, authorities said. Chappie Lake is about a half an hour by boat from Kenora, Ontario, Barclay said.


Pam Louwagie • @pamlouwagie

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