Worst marine tragedy since the Ocean Ranger

He­li­copter tragedy in­cludes Trin­ity Con­cep­tion res­i­dents among vic­tims


Paul Pike, 49 of Shearstown and Corey Eddy, 32 of Par­adise ( orig­i­nally from Si­b­ley’s Cove) have been iden­ti­fied among the pas­sen­gers on board the ill-fated he­li­copter, which went down in the At­lantic off New­found­land last week.

Their names were among those the RCMP re­leased, with per­mis­sion from fam­i­lies, over the week­end.

Only one of the 18 peo­ple on board, Robert Decker of St. John’s,

sur­vived the crash — the prov­ince’s worst marine tragedy since the Ocean Ranger dis­as­ter, which claimed 84 lives in Fe­bru­ary 1982.

A body re­cov­ered Thurs­day March 12, shortly af­ter the crash, was iden­ti­fied as Al­li­son Ma­her, 26 of Aquaforte on the South­ern Shore.

Af­ter about 30 hours of search­ing the frigid wa­ters, by Fri­day night the search and res­cue mis­sion turned sadly into a search and re­cov­ery.

That’s when the ac­ci­dent scene was turned over to the RCMP and Trans­porta­tion Safety Board of Canada ( TSB).

Search and res­cue op­er­a­tions of­fi­cially ended 7: 30 p. m. Fri­day, March 13, af­ter cov­er­ing 1,200 square nau­ti­cal miles of ocean.

No more sur­vivors

Maj. Den­nis McGuire of the coast guard’s joint res­cue co­or­di­na­tion cen­ter de­liv­ered the grim news: “As of this time there are no other per­sons that we’ve lo­cated what­so­ever, so it ap­pears that there are no sur­vivors.

“ Right now we have the one con­firmed sur­vivor that was re­cov­ered ( Thurs­day).”

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Reg Reeves, RCMP Crim­i­nal Op­er­a­tions Of­fi­cer read out the list of names of those lost dur­ing a live news con­fer­ence Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Be­fore mak­ing the names pub­lic Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Reeves said,“ some fam­i­lies have re­quested that we not release the name of their loved ones. We will re­spect their wishes and only release the names of those listed be­low: They are: Tim Lanou­ette, 48 years, Co­mox, B. C., first of­fi­cer ( pi­lot). Thomas An­wyll, 46, Lan­g­ley, B. C. Peter Breen, 55, St. John’s. Gary Cor­bett, 46, Con­cep­tion Bay South. Wade Drake, 42, For­tune. Wade Dug­gan, 32, Wit­less Bay. Corey Eddy, 32, Par­adise ( orig­i­nally from Si­b­ley’s Cove). Colin Hen­ley, 38, St. John’s. Ken MacRae, 47, Green­wood, Nova Sco­tia. Der­rick Mul­lowney, 51, Bay Bulls. Burch Nash, 44, For­tune. Paul Pike, 49, Shearstown. RCMP role Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Reeves ex­plained,“the role of the RCMP is to in­ves­ti­gate un­der the pro­vin­cial Fatal­i­ties In­ves­ti­ga­tions Act, and our mem­bers are es­sen­tially the Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors. The RCMP will col­lect, cat­a­logue and re­turn items re­cov­ered, par­tic­u­larly per­sonal items, from the crash site.

“ We are also in­volved in no­ti­fi­ca­tion of next of kin and con­tin­ual li­ai­son with the fam­ily to pro­vide timely and ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion,” the RCMP spokesman said.

The RCMP is in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of all ma­jor air­craft crashes and in­ci­dents of sud­den, un­ex­pected death. “ Our mem­bers work with the Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to rule out any pos­si­bil­ity of foul play,” the po­lice spokesman ex­plained.

Dur­ing this event, the RCMP has en­gaged a team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Ma­jor Crimes Unit and Foren­sic Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Ser­vices. The team is on site in the crash area. They will in­ves­ti­gate the sud­den death of the ca­su­al­ties, as­sist in re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions and in­ves­ti­gate miss­ing per­sons cases.

He­li­copter lo­cated

As part of the re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions, mean­while, Trans­porta­tion Safety Board in­ves­ti­ga­tors lo­cated the sub­merged he­li­copter over the week­end. Us­ing two ROVs ( re­mote op­er­ated ve­hi­cles) equipped with un­der­wa­ter cam­eras, the fuse­lage was dis­cov­ered ly­ing on its side in about 120 me­tres ( more than 400 feet) of wa­ter.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors hope to be able to raise the he­li­copter to the sur­face on Mon­day or Tues­day as part of the on­go­ing re­cov­ery op­er­a­tion.

Photo cour­tesy of Den­nis Flynn (info@dennisflynn.ca)

Home­ward bound - A Cougar he­li­copter sim­i­lar to the Siko­rsky S-92 which ditched in the At­lantic off New­found­land last week re­turns to home base. The ill-fated chop­per was fer­ry­ing off­shore oil work­ers to the White Rose and Hiber­nia oil fields when the ac­ci­dent occurred Thurs­day morn­ing, March 12. Pho­tog­ra­pher Den­nis Flynn, who snapped this photo be­fore last week’s tragedy said, from now on any time he sees a he­li­copter fly­ing, he will “never look at it in the same light again.”

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