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4 in critical condition after fatal heli-skiing helicopter crash near Terrace

Crash northwest of Terrace killed three, injured four; cause under investigation
John Forrest, co-owner of Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, during a news conference in Terrace on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Prabhnoor Kaur/Terrace Standard)

Investigators are continuing to probe the cause of a crash 30 kilometres northwest of Terrace on Monday (Jan. 22) that left three Italians dead and two injured.

The downed helicopter, which was owned by Kelowna-based Skyline Helicopters but contracted to Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, was one of three carrying heli-skiers when communication was lost, Terrace RCMP said in a statement. The helicopter was found in a remote location only accessible by helicopter.

Four other people were taken to Mills Memorial Hospital for assessment and immediate treatment, but have since been transported by air ambulance to other hospitals in B.C. for further care, a statement from B.C. Emergency Health Services confirmed Tuesday.

Two are in critical condition and two are in serious condition, according to officials. The pilot of the downed helicopter was confirmed to be from Kelowna, but their condition remains unknown.

Further details about the identities of the passengers or pilots involved have not been released at this time. The Transportation Safety Board, BC Coroners Service, RCMP and WorkSafeBC are both investigating the incident.

In a statement of its own, Skyline said both staff and guests of Northern Escape were on the helicopter that went down.

“We appreciate the swift response from external agencies, first responders, Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and our team following the accident yesterday,” said Skyline president Teri Northcott.

In a news conference in Terrace Tuesday afternoon, John Forrest, co-owner of Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, said that a distress call from one of the guests aboard one of the three helicopters set in motion internal rescue protocols, which included an immediate halt to all skiing activities in the mountain range.

“We also activated a mutual aid agreement with neighbouring operations, and White Wilderness assisted in getting guests off the mountain. I’d like to thank them for their help,” Forrest said.

There were no reported mechanical issues prior to the crash, according to Forrest.

“Every helicopter comes with a pilot and an engineer, and the engineer maintains the helicopter daily,” he said. “There were no indications of any mechanical issues at all.”

Northern Escape Heli-Skiing has paused all its operations until further notice.