Search for two people onboard missing helicopter concludes

News Article / March 12, 2019

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Royal Canadian Air Force

The search for two people onboard a Robinson R66 helicopter that went missing between Sudbury and Kapuskasing, Ontario, ended with the discovery of their aircraft on March 11, 2019.

Unfortunately, when Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue technicians (SAR techs) arrived at the crash site, Jody and Nicole Blais were found without vital signs.

The missing helicopter was discovered by an RCAF CC-130 Hercules on Monday March 11, 2019, at 1:22 p.m. EDT. SAR techs deployed to the site from a RCAF CH-146 Griffon helicopter at 1:54 p.m. EDT.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Transport Canada have been advised, and the OPP has taken control of the crash site. The Transportation Safety Board will be launching an investigation into the cause of the crash.

The helicopter was initially reported missing Wednesday, March 6, after family members contacted the OPP.  The two individuals had been flying from Sudbury to Kapuskasing, Ontario. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton began the search with RCAF aircraft and Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) personnel on Wednesday March 6, and the mission was upgraded to a major SAR operation on Saturday, March 9. The operation was coordinated out of the Victor M. Power Airport, in Timmins, Ontario.

“While this is not the outcome we hoped for, we hope it brings closure to the family and friends of Jody and Nicole Blais,” said the searchmaster, Captain Marty Zimmer of 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron. “We would like to thank the local communities for their support, as well as those that phoned in with tips. We also thank the OPP, Canadian Coast Guard and CASARA volunteers for their tireless efforts over the past several days.”

At its height, the search involved seven RCAF aircraft, a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, and three  Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) aircraft. RCAF personnel and aircraft came from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario; 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba; 439 Combat Support Squadron from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec; 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia. RCAF aircraft included three CC-130 Hercules aircraft, three CH-146 Griffon helicopters and a CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft. The Canadian Coast Guard and CASARA volunteers participated in the search both on the ground and in the air.

In all, approximately 85 RCAF, Canadian Coast Guard, and CASARA personnel took part in the search in the air, on the ground and in the search headquarters.

Search and rescue incidents under the federal search and rescue mandate are defined as all aircraft incidents and all marine incidents in waters under federal jurisdiction. With the exception of federally owned National Parks, the overall responsibility for land and inland water search and rescue rests with the provinces, territories and municipalities. 


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