B.C. woman killed in Alaskan floatplane crash remembered as ‘nicest person ever’

Friends are remembering the Canadian killed in Monday’s floatplane collision in Alaska as an accomplished taekwondo martial artist looking forward to the next stage of her life. 

Elsa Wilk, 37, who was from Richmond, B.C., but lived in Port Coquitlam, B.C., was named as one of six people killed after two sightseeing planes collided above open water in Alaska.

Her husband, Ryan Wilk, 39, of Utah, also died.

The Wilks had been passengers on the cruise ship Royal Princess, which was on a seven-day trip from Vancouver to Anchorage operated by Princess Cruises.

Frank Lerch, who has known Elsa for six years through practising taekwondo, said she and Ryan were married last year and were planning a move to Salt Lake City soon. 

“She quit her job, saying she wanted to live … and enjoy her life before she makes the big move,” Lerch said. “That’s [when this] happened. We’re totally shocked.”

Elsa Wilk was an accomplished taekwondo artist, regularly participating in competitions. (Elsa Wilk/Facebook)

Lerch said Elsa, who had worked as a marketing director for various tech companies in Vancouver, was a black belt in taekwondo who had participated in many competitions.

“I saw her flexibility [when] she made a split in the air … [it made me] work hard on myself to be better,” he said. 

Lerch said Elsa was a fierce competitor but was always laughing and always had a kind word. 

“When you can kick someone in the face and still call her a friend…” he said. “She was the nicest person ever.”

A cruise ship docked in Ketchikan, Alaska. The passengers on the two floatplanes that collided on Monday were passengers on a cruise. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which also injured 10 people. Investigators have requested flight tracking data and want to talk to the surviving pilot, passengers, plus the floatplane owners and other witnesses. 

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