Pilot killed, 7 passengers injured in Snow Lake plane crash; 4 people airlifted to Winnipeg
Published Sunday, November 18, 2012 12:51PM CST
Last Updated Monday, November 19, 2012 4:41PM CST
The cause of a plane crash near Snow Lake which claimed the life of a pilot and injured seven others is under investigation by officials.
Just after 10 a.m. Sunday, 911 dispatchers got a call from a man who was on board the Cessna 208 when it crashed east of Snow Lake.
Emergency services were dispatched to a wooded area about 1.6 kilometres from the Snow Lake Airport.
"When they arrived out there, the fire crews literally headed off through the bush," said Snow Lake's mayor, Clarence Fisher.
RCMP said it took hours to find the plane and rescuers only reached it around 11:45 a.m.
There, crews found seven men had been injured in the crash and the pilot of the aircraft was dead. Some passengers were seriously injured, according to RCMP.
RCMP are not releasing the name of the man who died in the crash but did say he was a 40-year-old resident of Snow Lake.
Emergency crews worked until almost 3 p.m., trying to get the injured passengers to safety. Crews were faced with multiple challenges, including the weather and the remoteness of the area.
RCMP said airplanes couldn’t land in the area due to low cloud ceilings.
A Canadian Forces search and rescue plane had been dispatched, but had to circle the town for hours as weather prevented it from landing, RCMP said.
Snow Lake emergency crews, fire crews, town employees, Canadian Forces and RCMP officers all worked to rescue the passengers.
RCMP said eight people in total were on board the plane, including seven passengers and the pilot. They revised earlier reports that said nine people were originally on the flight.
The aircraft was headed for Winnipeg from Snow Lake when it crashed not far from the runway.
The seven survivors were initially transported to Snow Lake Health Centre for care, about 25 km from the crash site. Some had serious injuries and were taken out of the remote area using snowmobiles.
"i know some injured people were put into some simple local half tons to get them out of the bush to the runway," said Fisher.
Snow Lake is located about 800 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
At least four men were airlifted to Winnipeg on Sunday, and another one was on his way Monday afternoon, according to Nor-Man Regional Health Authority.
The plane that crashed was operated by a local company called Gogal Air Service. The men injured in the crash were mine workers, mainly in their 20s and 30s, who were beginning the first leg of a trip back to their homes in eastern Canada.
Health officials said the men, who work for Dumas Mine Contracting, were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries in hospitals in The Pas, Thompson, Flin Flon and Winnipeg.
“To respect the privacy of our employees, Dumas is not releasing the names of these individuals,” said the company in a statement.
“The cause of the crash is unclear and is under investigation by the RCMP and the Transportation Safety Board. Dumas is committing all necessary resources to assist in the investigation and support our employees and their families. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the pilot, who succumbed to his injuries.”
The plane crash was one of three in Canada Sunday. In northern Alberta, a 52-year-old pilot was killed when flying between High Level and La Crete. The plane flew into an area with poor visibility shortly before crashing.
Another plane crashed at the Niagara District Airport in Ontario. Ambulances rushed two people to hospital. Both suffered minor injuries in the crash.
- with files from The Canadian Press