Location: Near Igloolik, Nunavut
Status: Investigation Ongoing
From The Investigator (FTI):
At 0830 hours local the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) tasked a CC130 aircraft from 424 Squadron Trenton (call sign R-323) to fly to the Arctic community of Igloolik. Late in the previous day a young man and his father became stranded in pack-ice in their small open boat and they activated their personal locator beacon. A CC130 aircraft from 435 Squadron based in Winnipeg had responded. This CC130 crew had dropped a six man life raft, other supplies and a radio to the boat. R-323 replaced this aircraft on scene at 1505 hours local. The men were unable to operate their boat, which was now in open water.
The crew of R-323 observed the men from the air and communicated with them by radio. The men were distressed and too cold to use the provided supplies. As the day progressed their boat disappeared in increasing wind and sea state. The men moved to the life raft where radio contact was lost and the pair appeared unresponsive. The crew of R-323 believed the men were dehydrated and hypothermic.
The RCC, aircraft captain and SAR Technician Team Leader approved a rescue parachute jump to the raft to provide medical assistance. At 1733 hours local, all three SAR Technicians parachuted from 2,000’ above their calculated release point, upwind of the raft. The seas were 6-12’ with some ice present, the winds were 25-35 knots and the air temperature was – 8ºC. The sun had set providing 30 minutes until full darkness.
Three good parachutes were observed from the ramp of the CC130 aircraft following the parachutists’ static line exit.
One SAR Technician was able to swim to the raft where he provided assistance to the men until recovery by CH149 helicopter, approximately four hours later. The second SAR Technician swam until he realized he could not close the distance to the raft. He deployed his personal one man life raft, stowed his rescue gear and bailed his raft until recovery by the CH149 helicopter.
The SAR Technician Team Leader landed furthest from the raft. The investigation learned he manoeuvred his parachute in descent and after landing he removed his 190C helmet and activated its white strobe light. He also placed his dive hood on his head and made a partial radio transmission to R-323. Five hours after the jump, the SAR Technician Team Leader was found unresponsive, floating in the sea with his life preserver inflated. He was wearing a dry suit that was not optimized for use on the CC130. Of particular note, the tether designed to hold his one man raft to his life preserver had separated at the threads and this life raft was missing. At recovery, the seas contained 45% slush with some ice pieces up to five feet in diameter. The winds were gusting to 47 knots and the seas were reported as 20 to 30’.
All persons were flown to the Igloolik Health Centre, less than 30 minutes away, where attempts to revive the SAR Technician Team Lead were unsuccessful. The investigation is focussing on SAR Technician personal life support equipment and the regulations governing rescue activities.