A Native community in Northern Ontario lost its deputy chief and three other officials after a tragic plane crash Sept 11.

Seven people from Summer Beaver and the pilot were killed when an 11-seat Cessna Grand Caravan owned by Wasaya Airways crashed near the community. Robert Sirianni, captain of CFB Trenton’s search-and-rescue crew, said thunderstorms may have been a factor in the tragedy.

The band’s deputy chief, chief negotiator, two councillors, another man, a woman, her grandson and the pilot were killed. All but the youngest had been in Thunder Bay that day for tribal council meetings. Of the reserve’s band council, only the chief and one councillor remain.

“What makes it so tragic is they’ve lost their leaders plus their key band staff, and that’s where they’ll need a lot of help,” Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy said.

Eric Kudaka, a spokesman for Wasaya Airways, which is owned by eight First Nations communities in Ontario, said the airline contacted the families of the dead. A team from Wasaya ferried as many as 500 people into the shell-shocked community of about 350, said John Beardy, a company spokesman.