Cause of deadly air ambulance helicopter crash remains a mystery

An air ambulance helicopter heading to Attawapiskat in northern Ontario to pick up a patient crashed shortly after taking off just past midnight Friday, killing all four people aboard.

(Dustin Dagenais was one of the paramedics killed in helicopter crash. Facebook photo)

APTN National News
An air ambulance helicopter heading to Attawapiskat in northern Ontario to pick up a patient crashed shortly after taking off just past midnight Friday, killing all four people aboard.

The Sikorsky S76 helicopter built in 1980, crashed at about 12:11 a.m. after leaving the Ornge base in Moosonee, Ont., said Rob Giguere, chief operating officer for the air and land ambulance firm that operates throughout Ontario.

The crashed killed pilots, Capt. Don Filliter, of Skead, Ont., and Jacques Dupuy, from Otterburn Park, Que., along with paramedics Dustin Dagenais, of Moose Factory, Ont., and Chris Snowball, from Burlington, Ont.

The helicopter wreckage was found about a kilometre away from the Ornge base.

The federal Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to the site.

Giguere said it remains unclear what caused the accident. He said there was “good visibility” at the time with overcast skies.

Dagenais had been posted in the region for about five years, according to a colleague who requested anonymity.

“He was a person that would go out there for anybody,” said the colleague. “I know talking to him, he always said he was one of those guys that would stick up for the person that was not so popular or the guy getting picked on. That is how he lived his life, he was very giving. He was probably one of the nicest guys I ever knew.”

At Dagenais’ home a friend said people were concerned about his wife and his family.

At the paramedics station in Attawapiskat the scene was also somber.

“Everyone is pretty upset,” said one of the paramedics posted there. “The phone has been ringing off the hook.”

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.