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.