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Crash Survivor Pulled Pilot from Wreckage

Crash survivor pulled pilot from wreckage
Helicopter with mining team on board burst into flames on impact in N.W.T.

Steve Lillebuen
Edmonton Journal

Monday, May 26, 2008

One of the survivors of a fatal helicopter crash in Northern Canada is being hailed as a hero after pulling the injured pilot to safety while flames burst from the wreckage.

All three people on board the aircraft were part of a diamond exploration team when they went down Saturday near their camp in remote, wooded terrain outside Norman Wells, N.W.T.

One person died in the crash.

Passenger Don Morrison, a drill foreman, radioed for help moments after the crash, Ted Soucie, one of the first medical responders to the scene, said Sunday.

Morrison then pulled the female pilot from the crumpled aircraft, Soucie said in an e-mail exchange from the camp.

Flames were shooting out of the damaged Hughes 500D helicopter, but Morrison was able to carry the woman about 200 metres to safety, Soucie said.

He said the driller rushed back to assist the third passenger, but flames kept him back.

"He is a hero in the eyes of the pilot."

John Buckland, a manager for Great Slave Helicopters Ltd., the parent company of the firm that owned the aircraft, also praised the man's actions.

"He was a bit of a hero in that regard."

Morrison works for Cabo Drilling Corp.'s Pacific division based in Surrey, B.C., general manager Earl Masarsky confirmed.

The experienced driller, who's in his mid-40s, was bruised in the accident, but Masarsky said he's apparently not in hospital and should fully recover.

"For him right now, it's really kind of difficult, because it is bittersweet ... (someone) did die in the crash."

Police have not released the names of any victims of the accident.

The mining team had been flying from a campsite in the area of Doctor Lake, about 40 kilometres north of Norman Wells.

Morrison and the pilot were taken to the health centre in Norman Wells, about 1,500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, before being flown to Yellowknife's Stanton Territorial Hospital.

The pilot was later sent to hospital in Edmonton with undisclosed injuries, RCMP said.

Soucie indicated he'd fly with her again once she recovers.

"The pilot of the crashed heli (is) an extremely competent person. Very professional in every way."

Officials from the Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site Sunday to begin looking into the cause of the accident. At the time of the incident, the temperature was reported to be 13 C with clear skies and a slight breeze out of the southwest.

Operations at the mineral exploration site have been suspended while the crash is investigated.

slillebuen@thejournal.canwest.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

Last Updated: 05/27/2008