Three killed during Arctic chopper patrol

Three people are dead after a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter crashed in Arctic waters during a routine patrol to check ice conditions. The helicopter had been stationed on the icebreaker Amundsen, which was sailing through M’Clure Strait in the western Arctic as part of a regular program of scientific study.

Three people are dead after a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter crashed in Arctic waters during a routine patrol to check ice conditions.

The helicopter had been stationed on the icebreaker Amundsen, which was sailing through M’Clure Strait in the western Arctic as part of a regular program of scientific study.

Those killed have been identified as Marc Thibault, commanding officer of the ship, helicopter pilot Daniel Dube and Klaus Hochheim, a veteran University of Manitoba Arctic scientist.

“We are deeply affected by this tragedy,” said Mario Pelletier, the coast guard’s assistant commissioner. “Our deepest condolences go to the families of our colleagues, who we like to think of as our friends.”

Pelletier said the Amundsen went through a crew change in Resolute, Nunavut, late last week.

“It’s a brand new crew,” said Pelletier.

“It was decided that an ice recognition patrol was needed in order to familiarize the commanding officer with the conditions surrounding the ship.

“We lost contact with the helicopter. The ship made its way to the last known position and found three persons in the water.”

Pelletier said weather conditions at the time of the crash Monday were good. The accident occurred during daylight.

All three who died were wearing safety equipment at the time, Pelletier said. He wasn’t able to say how far the helicopter was from the ship at the time of the crash or speculate as to what happened.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The helicopter was a Messerschmitt 105, capable of carrying a pilot and four passengers. Its maximum range is about 400 kilometres when fully loaded.

The Amundsen is a dual-purpose vessel, assigned to ice-breaking in the winter and to supporting scientific research in the summer.