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Probe into fatal Tweed helicopter crash: equipment bag got entangled in tail rotor

Tweed Helicopter Crash

The remains of a Hydro One Aerospatiale AS 350 B-2 helicopter that crashed near Tweed last Thursday, killing all four people aboard. Photo from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada

By Leah Den Hartogh [1]

BELLEVILLE – A Hydro One [2] helicopter crash that killed four people last week was caused by an equipment bag getting entangled in the tail rotor, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada [3] said Thursday.

The crash happened in a rural area off Upper Flinton Road north of Tweed late last Thursday morning. Killed were Hydro One line workers Jeff Howes of Bath, Darcy Jansen of Long Sault and Kyle Shorrock of Inverary, as well as pilot James Baragar of the the Orillia area.

In a report released Thursday afternoon, investigators with the transportation board said that the crash took place when the crew, which had been doing maintenance work on high-power transmission lines, approached a staging area to land. Some bags carrying tools were being stored on the exterior of the helicopter, where they would normally have been strapped down, but one of the bags came loose and struck the tail rotor. As the pilot tried to land, the helicopter went out of control.

The three passengers were thrown from the helicopter while it was still airborne. Two of them were not wearing seatbelts, the safety board said.

The weather was not considered a factor in the crash, the report said. The helicopter was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder, but a GPS was recovered and should help with the investigation, it said.

A heavily damaged canvas bag and the tip of a helicopter’s tail rotor blade were found more than 600 metres from the crash site.

The board says its next step in the investigation is to review the helicopter’s maintenance records as well as records of the pilot’s training, qualifications and proficiency. Investigators will also interview members of the victims’ families and witnesses to the crash.