Vernon man likely victim in Ethiopian plane crash

By James Peters / Global Okanagan
March 15, 2019 - 3:02pm Updated: March 15, 2019 - 5:06pm

VERNON, B.C. — An Okanagan man was among the 157 people who died in last Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Chunming (Jack) Wang, 47, of Vernon was one of the victims as everyone on board Flight ET302 died.

The plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, crashed shortly after leaving Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The plane left Bole International Aiport at 8:38 a.m., then crashed approximately six minutes later near the town of Bishoftu.

Wang was the owner of Big O Tires in Vernon, which he purchased and took possession of in 2016. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

On Friday, the Vernon store was closed with a note taped on the front door. The note said: “due to a very unfortunate event, we are temporarily closed. Thank you for your understanding at this time.”

Store manager Garnet Willett said Wang will be sorely missed.

“A very nice guy, a very good boss. Very friendly, very happy, very involved in the business,” Willett said of Wang.

“He liked to buy Kentucky Fried Chicken for us on Tuesday. Just a very good man.”

Willett added that Wang was “always laughing, always helpful. We had the language barrier, but with the apps we have nowadays, we were able to communicate quite well. Just a very happy-go-lucky guy.”

Willett said Wang was mechanically inclined and electrically gifted, and that his goal was to come to Canada, which he achieved, moving in 2015.

“He loved Canada. He loved to breathe the air and say ‘how fresh’ it was,” said Willett.

According to Willett, Wang was in Africa to complete his Canadian immigration paperwork. Willett said Wang lived in Kenya around 20 years ago for approximately two-and-a-half years.

“It was actually his second time there,” said Willett. “The first time, the fingerprints didn’t come out clear enough for the Canadian government, so he had to go back to get them redone. That was the only reason he was going back there.

“He was only going to be there for three days and back. That was the final hurdle towards his Canadian citizenship. Just a heartbreaking thing.”

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