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Pilot radioed emergency just prior to deadly crash

Nov. 12, 2013, Red Lake, Ont. - The pilots of a plane that crashed Sunday on approach to an airport in northern Ontario had made an emergency call about 10 minutes before the impact killed five people.


November 12, 2013
By The Toronto Star

According to the
Transportation Safety Board, the 19-seat Bearskins Airline plane crashed
in rugged terrain about three kilometres south of the runway in Red Lake, Ont.

 

Five people, including the two pilots, died in the crash when the twin-engine Metro Fairchild turboprop burst into flames.

 

The pilots were identified as a 25-year-old from Mississauga and a 34-year-old from Winnipeg.

 

Three passengers — a
53-year-old woman, a 53-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman, all from
Red Lake — were also killed, but police did not release their names.

The survivors were identified as a 29-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman, both from Winnipeg.

 

“The one male was actually the one that called us to report the crash,” said OPP Sgt. Rob McDonough.

 

The man pulled the woman to safety before flames engulfed the aircraft, he said.

 

The two were taken by ambulance to hospital where McDonough said they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

 

He noted the man was able to walk to the ambulance, while the woman appeared to have suffered a back injury.

 

Red Lake is about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

 

“It
was proceeding almost normally, then declared some degree of an
emergency,” said Peter Hildebrand, regional manager of the
Transportation Safety Board in Winnipeg.

 

“On the descent, it struck the ground about two miles south of the Red Lake airport,” he said.

 

The crash site is a rolling, wooded area with rocky terrain.

 

Flight 311 had taken
off from Sioux Lookout, Ont., on a flight to Red Lake, 270 kilometres
north of Kenora, and about 100 kilometres east of the Manitoba boundary.

 

During the crash, McDonough said, aircraft knocked down some hydro lines.

 

“The plane was totally
destroyed by the flames,” he said. “Upon impact it burst into flames
and then set bush around it on fire as well.”

 

A local fire crew quickly doused the flames in both the plane and the woods, he added.

 

There’s no word yet on the cause of the crash.

 

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt expressed her condolences on Twitter.

 

“My thoughts and
prayers go out to all those affected by the tragic air accident near Red
Lake last evening. Thank you to first responders,” she wrote.

 

Bearskin Airlines is based in Sioux Lookout and has operated since 1963, employing 300 people in Ontario and Manitoba.

 

Its fleet of 16 Metro Fairchild planes serves 18 destinations in the two provinces.