Small aircraft crashes east of Yellowknife

A Yellowknife hospital was expecting four patients to be flown in Tuesday from a plane crash in the bush along the east arm of Great Slave Lake. Stanton Regional Hospital spokesman Damien Healy said there was no information on the condition of the three passengers and sole pilot, but they were to be taken to the facility.

LUTSEL K’E, N.W.T. — A Yellowknife hospital was expecting four patients to be flown in Tuesday from a plane crash in the bush along the east arm of Great Slave Lake.

Stanton Regional Hospital spokesman Damien Healy said there was no information on the condition of the three passengers and sole pilot, but they were to be taken to the facility.

Earlier in the day, rescue crews beat their way through the northern bush to the crash site.

A privately owned Twin Otter airplane landed near the crash site, which is 30 kilometres from the tiny aboriginal community of Lutsel K’e. Rescuers were making their way from the lake shore to the downed Cessna Caravan 208.

“They’re hiking in to provide any assistance that they can,” said Earl Blacklock of the territory’s Transportation Department. “It’s pretty far from the airport there.”

As well, a helicopter owned by Great Slave Helicopters was en route, as was a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules search and rescue aircraft.

RCMP were also getting a helicopter ready to fly to the site.

There is no road access to the area.

RCMP also said they did not know much.

“The plane has been observed on the ground,” says Cpl. Shawn King. “There were no reports that came back to us about the condition of those on board.”

The downed plane is owned by Air Tindi, a Yellowknife-based airline that operates Cessna, Dash 7, Twin Otter and other aircraft.

The plane was making a regularly scheduled flight from Lutsel K’e to Yellowknife when the pilot decided to turn around about 25 kilometres out and head back to town.

“I have no information on why that decision was made,” King said. “A short time later, radio contact was lost.”

The weather was rainy but calm.

Lutsel K’e, population 312, is located on a peninsula extending into Christie Bay on the south shore of the east arm of Great Slave Lake.

It’s the third crash in the Canadian Arctic in recent weeks.

On Aug. 20, a First Air Boeing 737 crashed near Resolute, Nunavut, killing 12 and injuring three.

Two pilots died on Sept. 22 in the crash of a Twin Otter in Yellowknife’s Old Town neighbourhood. Seven were injured.

“It’s certainly another event that, given the previous two, is hitting people pretty hard,” King said.