Peter Marshall says the windshield of his 1987 Toyota pickup truck was smashed by falling ice. The incident occurred near Nanaimo, B.C. (Photo submitted)

Vancouver Island man claims falling ice smashed his truck windshield

Man discovered volleyball-sized chunk ice on his truck Saturday, near Nanaimo, B.C.

A Vancouver Island man is wondering how a massive chunk of ice ended up smashing the windshield of his truck this past weekend.

Peter Marshall, who lives on Rumming Road in Lantzville, near Nanaimo, B.C., claims he woke up at around 6:45 a.m. on Saturday morning after hearing a strange noise and walked outside and discovered a large piece of ice had smashed the windshield of his truck.

“I cannot explain the noise. It didn’t sound like a car crash, but it was something. I figured it was in the yard and so I went out with the dog and the motion light came on and I saw a block of ice [on] my truck,” Marshall said. “Then the motion light shut off and I just went in and got a flashlight and when I came back out, I scanned around and I saw my windshield was caved in.”

Marshall said the piece of ice near his Toyota truck was the size of a volleyball and that when he looked around his property, he found more pieces of ice.

“There was another piece that was about the size of a fist. Then there were numerous golf-ball sized ones all around the truck,” he said.

Marshall isn’t entirely sure what caused the ice balls to land on his property, but believes it was from a descending airplane. He said planes coming and going from Vancouver International Airport often fly over his home and after doing some research online, he learned of an incident where ice detached from an airplane.

“I seen that a similar thing had happened in Calgary but went through a house. It was about a year ago,” Marshall said.

According to PlaneFinder.net, two airplanes flew over the area between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Marshall said he wouldn’t know which airline is responsible if it is indeed ice from an airplane. He said he was outside with his wife examining the damage when they heard a second airplane fly over his house.

“As my wife and I were looking another one came in, but I can’t really tell because I am only seeing the belly of the plane and it was dark,” he said.

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Marshall has since contacted the Nanaimo RCMP as well as Transport Canada, which confirmed in an e-mailed statement to the News Bulletin that it is aware of the incident and is investigating.

“Transport Canada will review specific details of the incidents provided by members of the public, assess local radar data and follow up with aircraft operators and local airports. Transport Canada takes all reports of possible debris coming from aircraft very seriously, however it can be difficult to determine the origins of the ice,” said Marie-Anyk Côte, senior advisor with Transport Canada.

Frozen lavatory waste is referred to as “blue ice” according to Côté, who said that aircraft that have washroom facilities onboard are equipped with an enclosed sewage holding tank that is designed to be emptied at airports. She said it is possible for the tank’s valve to malfunction.

“If this happens, the liquid seeping from valves freezes and adheres to the outside of the aircraft when the aircraft is flying at high altitudes,” she said in an e-mail. “As the aircraft starts its descent and the atmosphere gets warmer, the ice will start to melt and pieces will detach themselves from the aircraft. These pieces of ice will either melt or remain in their solid state before hitting the ground.”

Canadian Aviation Regulations states that “no person shall create a hazard to persons or property on the surface by dropping an object from an aircraft in flight.” Côté said should Transport Canada determine that an airline has failed to comply with aviation regulations, the department will take “appropriate enforcement” action, which includes fines, warnings or grounding aircraft.

ICBC will cover the cost of the broken windshield, according to Marshall, who said he’ll still have to pay his $300 deductible. He said he also has no idea which airline to contact about the incident either.

“I don’t even know where to start. I am not even a customer,” he said. “Who do you phone?”

At the end of the day, the Lantzville resident considers himself lucky to be alive, given the size of the ice that could have fallen on someone’s head.

“It would have killed them and who would’ve ever known? The ice would have melted and they would have been laying there dead, looking like they pissed themselves,” he said.

Marshall said he still has the ice.


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