A helicopter fighting a wildfire crashed into Lesser Slave Lake about 24 kilometeres northwest of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, killing the pilot who was the only person on board. The Bell 212 helicopter, using a water bucket, was dipping out of the lake and ended up in about four feet of water 30 meters offshore just after 3 p.m. MT on Friday, May 21.
Here is an excerpt from CTV:
…[The] RCMP said fire officials immediately extricated the one male pilot from the helicopter. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the only one on board.
“We got a call to take my boat, which was fortunately parked right on the shore of the lake and get over to help recover it,” said eyewitness Troy Foster.
Another eyewitness reports he saw the chopper go down.
“I was just walking to the neighbour’s property and they’d been bucketing all day and a chopper came over and he went to go into a hover and he tipped right sideways,” said Lorne Lukan. “In seconds he went over, went into a hover and tipped right sideways and went straight down.”
Police say rescue attempts resulted in a number of emergency workers receiving hypothermia.
“They were treated for mild hypothermia,” said incident commander Len Maccharles. “There were 12 firefighters in the water,” he added.
“My heart goes out to the family of this helicopter pilot,” said Premier Ed Stelmach. “Today’s tragic news drives home the reality that the brave men and women fighting the fires in Alberta put their lives on the line every day to keep Albertans and our communities safe.”
The Transportation Safety Board says the chopper was owned by Campbell Helicopters based out of Abbotsford, B.C.
The chopper was assisting with fire control in the area. The province says the helicopter and pilot were under contract to Sustainable Resource Development.
Our sincere condolences to the family and coworkers.
Update: the pilot has been identified.