Pilot Flees Crash Scene, Leaves Injured Passengers


A helicopter crash investigation has turned into a manhunt in rural British Columbia after the pilot of a Robinson R44 left three injured passengers at the scene of accident. According to Castanet, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are now looking for the pilot while his passengers recover in local hospitals near Enderby, B.C., about 200 miles northeast of Vancouver. The helicopter crashed Aug. 12 in a shallow section of the Shuswap River, about 20 miles east of Enderby, after apparently hitting a power line.

“The initial investigation determined four people were on board the helicopter when it crashed into the river bed,” RCMP Const. Chris Terleski said in a statement. “Three of the individuals were transported to hospital with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries. One person, believed to be the pilot, left the scene in a vehicle prior to arrival of emergency personnel and remains unaccounted for.” A small dog that was on the helicopter was later found dead.

The pilot is apparently notorious in the area for his low-level flights in the R44. He has not been officially identified by the police, but numerous witnesses have come forth saying they saw him flying the helicopter at low altitude over the river and in other locations in the area, which is a mix of farmland and forest. An hour before the crash, a resident snapped a photo of the helicopter landing on the roof of a building on top of a hydroelectric dam.

The helicopter has a U.S. registration (N7529M) and was last registered to Quicksilver Air Inc. in Fairbanks. That registration was canceled on July 6 when the aircraft was sold to a Canadian owner but it does not appear to have been added to the Canadian registry, according to Castanet.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Kind of sounds like someone who is the business of the import-export of high priced recreational pharmaceuticals…..

  2. As a helo pilot, I can tell you that “numerous witnesses have come forth saying they saw him flying the helicopter at low altitude over the river and in other locations in the area, which is a mix of farmland and forest.” is entirely normal use for a helicopter, particularly while training. As long as you’re not endangering persons or property on the river or the “mix of farmland and forest”, all is well.

    Please try to be more careful with descriptions like this in the future–it does a real disservice to helicopter pilots.

    An analog for airplane pilots might be, “He was notorious for stalling his airplane”

  3. As a fixed- and fling-wing pilot, may I suggest that your analogy is not quite appropriate, insofar as stalling an airplane is not a necessary or ordinary operation. Landings are done while the wing is not yet fully stalled. Aside from training and aerobatics, there is no reason for the wing to be stalled in normal operations, and certainly not with three passengers aboard.

    However, as one who lost a Canadian friend when his helicopter hit an unmarked and uncharted powerline across a river in a rural area outside of Calgary, low-level heli-ops are fraught with un-seeable dangers.

    As for speculation of illegal drug involvement, Occam’s Razor suggests that it is much more likely that this was just your standard bone-headed attempt to show off a new toy. That’s caused many more fatal accidents than trafficking.

  4. Aviatrexx : I like your assessment as posted above of this ” helo pilot’s actions and mishap and as to the possible suggestion of why it may have occurred in the first place. “

  5. Idle speculation aside, I prefer the TSB of Canada’s initial and/or final report for an explanation of the pilot fleeing from this crash. Local people familiar with the pilot and passengers and news reporters may provide background info on whether this was a recreational flight or not.

  6. Every time I ran out of an aircraft, it was because of a call from nature. I’ll go with that assessment. )