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Victims of Ontario plane crash remembered for adventurous spirits

Nikolas Rajala and Teresa Rajala, shown here on the eve of their wedding in September 2005, died when their plane crashed Saturday in Ontario. The third victim was Lynn Marie Bohanan of Grand Rapids. (Allison Ahcan photo)

Family members described the three Minnesotans killed in an Ontario plane crash Friday as curious adventure seekers who truly made a difference in the community.

Loved ones spent the weekend mourning and reminiscing on the trio’s stimulating journeys in life.

“They were true adventurers and brought adventure to other people’s lives,” said Allison Rajala-Ahcan. “Their generous hearts will be missed.”

The plane crash on Chappie Lake in Ontario took the lives of three occupants of the aircraft who were identified by Canadian authorities as Nikolas Ivar Rajala, 41, and Teresa Nicole Rajala, 40, both of Cohasset, and Lynn Marie Bohanan, 37, of Grand Rapids.

Bohanan’s significant other, Rusty Eichorn, said Bohanan flew planes.

Bohanan received her pilot license in 2010. The couple owned two planes together.

“We have flown together many times,” Eichorn said. “She was an amazing friend, I loved her deeply and she was also a great traveling partner.”

Allison Rajala-Ahcan said her brother Nikolas Rajala was a talented pilot who truly loved flying.

“Nikolas was an accomplished pilot for a number of years, he was very passionate about it,” Rajala said. “I have never flown in a plane with him, but my father flew with him and he was convinced that is what Nikolas was meant to do in life.”

Nikolas and Teresa Rajala thoroughly enjoyed participating in outdoor activities. Nikolas Rajala rode snowmobiles during the winter while Teresa Rajala took pleasure in ice fishing, gardening and working with horses.

“Teresa’s nieces and nephews spent Monday riding Teresa’s pony ‘Charlie Brown the pony’ to remember her,” Rajala said. “She expressed a big love for horses.”

Rajala said Nikolas and Teresa Rajala weren’t the type to sit around and let life pass them by. The two were always looking for the next thing to accomplish.

“Nikolas and Teresa were mavericks who created their own paths in life,” Rajala said. “You would barely find them sitting at home because they were always doing something. They had a vision for their life and they lived it.”

Eichorn and Bohanan dated for six years; Eichorn also described Bohanan as an avid adventurer.

 “Lynn was very smart and outdoorsy, you could find her hunting, skydiving, or snowmobiling,” Eichorn said. “She would put together incredible photo books of all our happy times and adventures.”

Eichorn was also friends with Nikolas Rajala; they met through mutual friends years ago. Eichorn labeled Nikolas Rajala as a very good pilot.

“Nik would fly planes regularly, he started flying just out of high school,” Eichorn said. “I believe he flew to Ontario at least 15 times. He was a great pilot.”

Eichorn said the trio really made a difference and described the crash as a “devastating loss.”

“All three of my friends who perished Friday will be missed terribly by so many people’s lives they touched,” Eichorn said.

Police were called on Friday, after the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received a signal from an Emergency Locator Transmitter on Chappie Lake, an inland lake on the Aulneau Peninsula of Lake of the Woods. Search and rescue crews responded and found the downed Cessna 182 aircraft. Teresa and Nikolas Rajala died at the scene of the crash; Bohanan sustained injuries in the crash and died later.

The cause of the crash was not immediately available. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation into the accident, Itasca County Sheriff’s officials said in a statement.