Research scientist, Coast Guard officer, pilot killed in Arctic crash
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:24AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 10, 2013 10:41PM EDT
A Canadian Coast Guard helicopter crashed into the Arctic Ocean Monday, killing all three people on board.
At a news conference on Tuesday, the Coast Guard announced the names of the victims: Daniel Dube, the pilot; Marc Thibault, commanding officer of the CCGS Amundsen; and Klaus Hochheim, an Arctic researcher.
“As all of you, we at the Canadian Coast Guard are deeply affected by this tragedy,” Mario Pelletier, assistant commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard for the central and Arctic region, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard says the chopper -- a Messerschmitt BO 105S -- had been working on a reconnaissance mission to check ice conditions when it crashed. It went down in the M’Clure Strait off the coast of Banks Island in the western Arctic.
A Coast Guard vessel recovered the bodies of the crew after reaching the crash scene on Monday evening.
Pelletier said weather conditions were good at the time of the crash and all three men on board were wearing safety equipment. The crash occurred during daylight.
In a statement released Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the victims “brave” and said they would be “honoured and remembered.”
“It is a grim reminder of the very real dangers faced on a regular basis by those brave individuals who conduct research and patrol our Arctic -- one of the harshest and most challenging climates in the world -- to better understand and protect Canada’s North,” he said in a written statement. “The courage and dedication of these three brave individuals will be honoured and remembered.”
Hochheim, 55, was a respected climatologist and research associate with the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) at the University of Manitoba.
“Klaus was a friend and colleague. We’re devastated at the news of his passing,” Tim Papakyriakou, director of CEOS at the University of Manitoba, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“He was a veteran of high Arctic field campaigns and an outstanding research scientist. We extend heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed by all.”
Hochheim leaves behind a wife and three children.
The chopper had been working with the CCGS Amundsen, a research icebreaker operating in the Arctic.
The Amundsen had gone through a full crew change before departing from Resolute on Sept. 6. It was supposed to be heading to the Beaufort Sea before returning to Quebec City in mid-October.
Martin Fortier, executive director of the research consortium ArcticNet, said the tragedy has left everyone in shock.
"Those three people were just great people," Fortier said of the crash victims. "(My) favourite captain, favourite pilot and Klaus was a great person too."
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
With files from The Canadian Press