Helicopter crash Campbell River Spit Rd approx 11:am Sept 24, 2019 pic.twitter.com/RvxN6Mt1fl
— BCFindIt (@GenealogyBC) September 24, 2019
One person died in a helicopter crash at Tyee Spit in Campbell River Tuesday morning and the crash narrowly-missed a local First Nations carver in his studio at the time.
At approximately 11:25 a.m. on Tuesday, Campbell River RCMP and Campbell River Fire responded to a report of a helicopter crash in the Tyee Spit area of Campbell River.
“A locally-owned commercial helicopter met a tragic end in the area with one soul on board who did not survive,” Const. Maury Tyre, Campbell River RCMP spokesperson said in a press release.
Campbell River RCMP had the Spit Road area closed off for approximately an hour following the incident for investigative and safety purposes. The cause of the crash is presently unknown and will continue to be investigated by Worksafe BC, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the BC Coroner’s Service.
“On behalf of the Campbell River RCMP, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of the victim in this crash and to the staff and owners of the helicopter company,” Tyre said.
Police said the name of the victim and the helicopter company will not be released due to privacy concerns.
A witness to the crash said that people rushed to the scene to provide assistance once the helicopter, a Bell 206, had come down.
Jacques Lizotte said, “We saw the chopper come over the top of us. Then the sound was not right. It looked like the motor was not running and we saw him coming down and when it hit the ground the rotor flew off and the fire started.”
Lizotte thought it was going to land in the parking lot but then it came down beside a building known as the Carving Shed on the part of Tyee Spit in the Wei Wai Kum First Nation reserve. The helicopter caught fire and the fire spread to a corner of the shed.
Renowned local artist Bill Henderson was in the shed at the time but managed to avoid injury. His great-neice, Keisha Malone, said Henderson had luckily moved away from the part of the shed that was struck by the helicopter’s propeller blade as it sliced through the roof. His nephews were working outside the shed on a totem pole and also escape unharmed.
Malone was in her house across the street and heard a “huge, loud bang” and then people yelling “Call 911!” Malone said Henderson is shaken up by the incident but is doing all right. She said her family’s thoughts were with the pilot’s family.
“Our condolences go out to his family,” she said.
Lizotte was one of many who rushed over to the scene. He said he saw two people pull the occupant of the helicopter out. He saw them pull apart some of the fibreglass of the helicopter fuselage to get to him.
“Lots of people, they went there with the extinguisher and tried to get the fire out; some run with a bucket of water,” Lizotte said.
Lizotte said the fire department then took over putting the fire out.
The crash site is a heavily-used area of Campbell River. Part of it is in the Wei Wai Kum First Nation reserve and includes an RV park, a housing subdivision the carving shed and defunct cruise ship dock. North of the crash site on the Tyee Spit is a popular city park, a busy floatplane base and an ore ship loading facility.
A team from the Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash as is WorkSafe BC and the BC Coroner’s Service.
CTV News is reporting that the pilot killed in the crash is Ed Wilcock, owner of E&B Helicopters of Campbell River.
– with files from Canadian Press