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ONTARIO: Missing couple's helicopter found in wooded area, partially buried in snow: search master

Transportation Safety Board of Canada, OPP to investigate cause
2019-03-11 Crash Site SUP (1)
Crews in a Canadian Armed Forces Hercules aircraft spotted the site of a helicopter crash, circled in red, March 11, 2019. It was found 35 nautical miles from Nicole and Jody Blais' destination, a hangar in Fauquier. Supplied photo

The search for a Kapuskasing couple has ended tragically.

Around 1:15 p.m. this afternoon, search master Capt. Martin Zimmer said a Canadian Forces C130 Hercules spotter located the crash site of the helicopter Nicole and Jody Blais were in.

“Following that, a Canadian Armed Forces Griffon helicopter was dispatched to the site where two search and rescue technicians were dispatched to look at the incident and they determined at that time that both occupants had not survived the impact,” said Zimmer.

The couple was last seen a week ago — Monday, March, 4 — leaving Sudbury in a Robinson R66 helicopter. They never made it to their destination, a hangar in Fauquier.

Over the past week, aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Coast Guard and Civil Air Search and Rescue Association have been flying the route searching for the helicopter.

The crash site, said Zimmer, was 35 nautical miles from their destination.

He said the site is in a “fairly heavily wooded area and partially buried under snow.”

Crews had flown over the site six or seven times before a spotter located the crash.

Zimmer was emotional delivering the news.

“We have quite a dedicated crew here and our job is we always hope to bring family members back to their loved ones, it is emotional for the whole crew,” he said.

He said their thoughts and condolences go out to the Blais’ family and friends.

“I would like to thank all the members involved in the search, that include the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard, Ontario Provincial Police, CASARA and volunteers for their tireless work in supporting this major search. Although this is not the outcome that we had hoped for, I hope that this does bring some closure to the friends and families,” he said.

Zimmer’s crews are on site now to secure the scene until it’s turned over to the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying an investigation team to the site of the crash.

The independent agency investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurences with the aim of helping advance transportation safety.

“Now that we found the helicopter, we’re going to be running a parallel investigation with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada,” said OPP Const. Michelle Simard.

“While we’re doing that, we’re also engaging other specialties in the OPP, which include our emergency response, the crime unit, forensic identification services, and the coroner, of course. It’s going to be a lengthy investigation, but we’re going to work together to get this resolved.”