Four dead after New Year’s Day helicopter crash in northern Alberta, RCMP says

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Four people died Friday when a helicopter crashed into a farmer’s field in northern Alberta.

An RCMP spokesperson said Saturday it appears that the people killed were a couple and their children.

Spirit River RCMP were dispatched to respond to a call from an emergency location transmitter in a Robinson R44 helicopter in the Birch Hills County area, Alberta RCMP said in a news release Saturday. Sgt. Shawn French said the call came in at about 8:50 p.m. local time on Friday.

“Upon arrival at the scene, the RCMP members confirmed that a helicopter had crashed in a farmer’s field,” spokesperson Sgt. Shawn French said in the news release. “The four occupants of the helicopter were confirmed deceased as a result of the crash.”

French said it’s his understanding that the helicopter was privately owned. He said at this point he had limited information about the people who died and was not able to provide their ages.

“The occupants, it appears to have been a family of four, two adults and two children,” he said.

Police said they have secured the crash scene and were awaiting the arrival of Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and Occupational Health and Safety investigators.

A TSB spokesperson said an investigation team arrived Saturday afternoon and had completed their initial examination of the site. Wreckage will be recovered by tomorrow afternoon and the investigation will continue with interviews and contacting next of kin.

Investigators will also gather information including the pilot’s training experience and the aircraft’s maintenance history, the spokesperson said.

Birch Hills County is about 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

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