Three men out on a training flight died Friday when the helicopter they were in crashed into a mountainside in northwestern British Columbia.
On Saturday, Bailey Helicopters Ltd. identified one of them as Peter Bryant, 44, of Terrace, B.C. He was an 11-year employee of the company and a "highly experienced helicopter pilot," the company said in a media statement. On Monday, the B.C. Coroners Service identified the other two men as Blake Erickson, 48, of Sicamous and Arnaud Jolibois, 44, of Banff, Alberta.
All three were employees of Bailey Helicopters Ltd. It is unclear who was flying at the time of the crash.
The AS350 B2 helicopter, commonly called an A-Star, was overdue from its training flight about 20 kilometres west of Terrace when it crashed on to the west slope of Sleeping Beauty Mountain, said Gerry Pash of the Victoria Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.
The centre dispatched a Buffalo aircraft and a search helicopter to the area after receiving an emergency locator transmission at about 9 a.m. The company’s flight tracking system led a second helicopter to the crash site.
At about 10:45 a.m., Terrace RCMP received a report of the crash as well, said Constable Angela Rabut.
An avalanche technician led the search and rescue crew, along with Terrace RCMP, to the crash site early Friday afternoon. They confirmed the three men aboard had died, however, they were forced to turn back shortly after as inclement conditions made the recovery unsafe, Constable Rabut said.
She described the conditions – rain and snow, with limited visibility – as “horrible.”
Recovery efforts will resume when it is deemed safe.
“This is really dependent on weather and ensuring the safety of our emergency personnel,” she said.
Bailey Helicopters is a privately owned company with its main base in Fort St. John. It offers services including passenger transport, forestry support and aerial photography and filming.
The helicopter was manufactured in 2003 and the company has owned and operated it since March, 2004.
It is a single-engine aircraft equipped for one pilot and five passengers, said Dan Wuthrich, the company’s director.
The Transportation Safety Board and the RCMP will investigate the cause of the crash.
With a report from The Canadian Press