Two killed in crash
Officials still investigating cause

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Resolute Bay ( May 29/00) - Two men are dead and one left with serious injuries following a helicopter crash about 60 kilometres southwest of Resolute Bay May 21.

Killed were polar bear researchers Malcolm Ramsay, 51, of Saskatchewan and Stuart Innes, 47, of Manitoba. It is believed that both men died when the helicopter crashed into the sea ice.

Benoit Boulet, the pilot of the downed aircraft, managed to survive the accident, said Staff Sgt.Andrew Boland of the V Division of the RCMP.

"His injuries were multiple," said Boland, following his return to Iqaluit. A team of RCMP officers from the capital was dispatched to Resolute Bay to assist the local detachment with the accident after researchers at the Polar Continental Shelf Project reported the helicopter overdue. All three men were working for the renown research station at the time of the accident.

"He had compound fractures to both legs, we know for sure that one arm was broken, he had numerous broken ribs and multiple lacerations," said Boland, referring to the pilot.

"It's a miracle that he lived."

Notified of the missing helicopter Sunday morning, May 21 at 3 a.m., Boland said the wreckage was located by spotters from the community at 1:45 p.m. later the same day.

"They were the first ones to the scene," said Boland, of the civilian searchers aboard a First Air Twin Otter being used by the Polar Continental Shelf Project.

Based on words from Boulet, Boland said the pilot managed to get himself out of the aircraft and after checking his colleagues and realizing they were dead, he set off his Emergency Locator Transmitter and covered himself with as many layers of clothing and blankets as he could find.

Boulet was conscious when found and immediately medevaced by the Hercules aircraft (also used in the search) to the Ottawa area. He remains in hospital in serious but stable condition.

After determining that no criminal activity caused the crash, the investigation was turned over to the federal Transportation Safety Board and to Bell Helicopters, the makers of the aircraft.

Boland said to date, there is no evidence whatsoever of what may have caused the crash.

"We have no eyewitnesses to the scene, the pilot has no recollection of the events leading up to it and there was no physical evidence, no indication of what happened," said Boland.

"(He has) no recollection whatsoever. Basically it boils down to shock and the trauma of the accident," said Boland.

Both scientists, well known to residents of Resolute Bay, were veteran marine mammal researchers.