Into the abyss: How a deadly plane crash changed the lives of a pilot, a politician, a criminal and a cop.

“Electrifying history... Shaben’s riveting narrative is filled with heart.”
— Publisher's Weekly

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On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Erik Vogel, the 24-year-old pilot, was under intense pressure to fly--a situation not uncommon to pilots working for small airlines. Overworked and exhausted, he feared losing his job if he refused to fly. Larry Shaben, the author's father and Canada's first Muslim Cabinet Minister, was commuting home after a busy week at the Alberta Legislature. After Paul Archambault, a drifter wanted on an outstanding warrant, boarded the plane, rookie Constable Scott Deschamps decided, against RCMP regulations, to remove his handcuffs--a decision that profoundly impacted the men's survival. As they fought through the night to stay alive, the dividing lines of power, wealth and status were erased and each man was forced to confront the precious and limited nature of his existence. The survivors forged unlikely friendships and through them found strength and courage to rebuild their lives. Into the Abyss is a powerful narrative that combines in-depth reporting with sympathy and grace to explore how a single, tragic event can upset our assumptions and become a catalyst for transformation.

Praise for Into the Abyss

“As a concept, it doesn't get much better [than this] ... Into the Abyss is in the best traditions of true-life journalism and grips from beginning to end.”
The Times (UK)

“(A) deep and satisfying book." (read more)
The Washington Post

“(T)his is a complex, chilling narrative rendered with depth and precision, engaged in both its characters and the larger social moment. A worthy addition to the canon of extreme-survival nonfiction.”

“In this electrifying history, journalist Shaben chronicles a devastating plane crash and its ramifications on the four survivors. Shaben’s riveting narrative is filled with heart and the story is well told.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Shaben] vividly recreates how these four total strangers managed to survive the tragedy.”
New York Post

“…Gripping…The combination of men and dispositions could barely have been scripted more cinematically, like some Greek morality play…Shaben’s descriptions are impossibly precise…”
Edmonton Journal

“Shaben's gripping narrative seizes the reader from the first chapter.”
The Toronto Star