Canadian Coast Guard helicopter emitted no distress signal before deadly Arctic crash

A Canadian Coast Guard helicopter emitted no distress signal before it crashed into Arctic waters Monday, killing all three people onboard, the Canadian Coast Guard said Tuesday.

APTN National News
A Canadian Coast Guard helicopter emitted no distress signal before it crashed into Arctic waters Monday, killing all three people onboard, the Canadian Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The helicopter was flying from the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen on an ice reconnaissance mission when it crashed into the waters of McClure Strait, near Banks Island, NWT, at about 8 p.m. EDT

The Amundsen managed to recover the bodies of the three men killed in the crash which were found floating in the water. The dead include Marc Thibault, the commanding officer of the Amundsen, Klaus Hochheim, 55, an Arctic scientist with the University of Manitoba, and Daniel Dube, the helicopter pilot.

While the helicopter emitted no distress signal, the crew of the Amundsen realized something went wrong after the ship stopped receiving signals from the helicopter. The ship then traveled to the helicopter’s last known location and found pieces of the wreckage and the bodies.

Canadian Coast Guard officials said during a press briefing shortly after noon on Tuesday that the cause of the crash is still under investigation. Officials said the crash would be investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the RCMP.

The officials said there was still daylight at the time of the crash, visibility was good and the weather was clear.

The officials could not say how far the helicopter was from the ship when it crashed. Pieces of the helicopter were recovered, but the bulk of the machine is believed to now lie at a depth of about 420 metres.

The ship was in the midst of climate change research and had just gone through a crew change five days earlier. It’s normal for ice reconnaissance missions to occur following a crew change to familiarize new personnel with ice conditions around the ship.

The Amundsen is expected to reach port in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, sometime on Wednesday. Resolute sits about 670 kilometres east of the crash site.

The University of Manitoba released a statement on Hochheim’s death.

“We’re devastated at the news of his passing,” said Tim Papakyriakou, director of the university’s Centre for Earth Observation Science.

The prime minister also issued a statement of condolences.

“It is a grim reminder of the very real dangers faced on a regular basis by those brave individuals who conduct research and patrol our Arctic–one of the harshest and most challenging climates in the world–to better understand and protect Canada’s North,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in the statement. “The courage and dedication of these three brave individuals will be honoured and remembered.”

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.