Saturday, August 15, 2009

Search for downed helicopter pilot continues

Rescue crews battled difficult terrain as they continued their search for the pilot of a crashed helicopter in the B.C. Interior Saturday morning.

Officials say the pilot, who has been identified as 53-year-old Robert Christopher Woodhead of Stoney Creek, Ont., was the only person on board.

The twin-engine, 15-seater Bell 212 helicopter was working a water bucket on a wildfire when it went down on the Fraser River near Lytton, where the Fraser joins the Thompson River.

"The wreckage, even though we can see if from the air, is actually in fast-flowing water about 50 feet deep, so it's very challenging for … the police divers who have been trying to see if they can find the pilot, without success at this time," said Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

He said crews would also try to salvage the wreckage in order to determine what went wrong.

"It'll be some time before we get more information, probably a couple of days, before we can get some of the pieces out and start working on the investigation," Yearwood said.

He said the aircraft is owned by Elbow River Helicopters, an Alberta-based charter company. It was under contract to the B.C. Forest Service.

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