A northern Alberta couple and their eight- and two-year-old daughters were killed in a helicopter crash on New Year’s Day.
The man and woman who died when their Robinson R44 helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field about 100 kilometers northeast of Grande Prairie were spouses Wade and Aubrey Balisky, 45 and 37.
RCMP Sgt. Shawn French said the two young girls who also died in the event were family. They were identified as the couple’s daughters, eight-year-old Jewel and two-year-old Fleur, by the Balisky and Warkentin families.
The couple had three other children aged 16, 14, and 12. They lived in DeBolt, Alta.
Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Christopher Warkentin, Aubrey’s cousin, shared a joint statement from the families on Facebook, thanking those who had reached out.
Warkentin said he was close with his cousin and grew up in the same neighbourhood as Wade, whom he described as an “experienced pilot.”
“The families are very, very close,” he said. “It goes back a couple of generations, at least a generation or two that our families have known each other.”
Warkentin said the helicopter crashed on a property jointly owned by Aubrey’s father and his own father, which he believed was “totally coincidental.”
The families said in the statement that Wade and Aubrey loved their extended family, friends and neighbours. Wade was described as a farmer and family man, and Aubrey a mother whose children were “her constant delight.”
“Wade loved his family and took every opportunity to share his joy of life with them. … (Aubrey) was an artist and photographer and loved to capture the beauty of life around her,” the statement read in part.
“Jewel was…… our jewel. She brought colour and vibrancy wherever she went.
“Fleur’s middle name was Treasure, and she was truly the treasure of our family.”
A signal from an emergency location transmitter in the Birch Hill County area was sent around 8:50 p.m. on Jan. 1.
A representative from the Transportation Safety Board told CTV News the helicopter’s flight path was unknown and it’s not clear from where it departed or to where it was destined.
An investigation is underway.