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Kyle, this one is for you!


Taken from the Calgary Sun this morning.


Once again members, thanks for your support.


Troy Bridgman, Operations Manager Bighorn Helicopters.



Helicopter pilot hailed as hero

UPDATED: 2008-05-15 02:15:04 MST








The pilot of a doomed helicopter that crashed into a Cranbrook neighbourhood, killing four people, is being praised as a hero for keeping the stricken craft from causing further casualties.


Tuesday's fiery crash in the B.C. city, 400 km southwest of Calgary, claimed the lives of pilot Edward William Kyle Heeb, 57, and his two passengers, BC Hydro employees Dirk Bentley Rozenboom, 45, and Robert William Lehmann, 37.


A fourth man walking unaware on the street below, 20-year-old Isaiah Omond Otieno, an international student from Kenya, was killed after being struck by the downed chopper.


But witnesses said even worse carnage may have been averted by Heeb managing to bring the helicopter down in a street, avoiding adjacent houses and apartment complexes.


Such action was typical of the 17-year flying veteran's professionalism, said a spokesman for Bighorn Helicopters Inc., where Heeb started working last August.





"It's no surprise to anyone at Bighorn he would do something like that -- he was very professional, with an exemplary flying record," said Murray Whyte, adding Heeb leaves behind a wife and three children.


RCMP Cpl. Chris Faulkner agreed the tragedy could have been worse, adding it appears Heeb didn't have time to issue a distress call before the chopper plummeted.


"If he was trying to avert a big disaster, he should be hailed as a hero ... as tragic as it is with four lives lost, we're very lucky it wasn't more in a residential area," said Faulkner.


Otieno, meanwhile, is being remembered as a 6-ft.-9 gentle giant and popular student at College of the Rockies, where he took business courses with plans to transfer to the University of Victoria.


"Isaiah was always a cheerful presence on campus, he had a wonderful gentle nature and was an excellent ambassador for his nation," said college president Dr. Nick Rubidge.


A spokeswoman at the Kenya High Commission in Ottawa said yesterday officials are working to bring Otieno's remains back to his east Africa homeland, where his father serves as a government treasurer.


Otieno was reportedly wearing headphones at the time of the crash and likely didn't hear the chopper hurtling tail-first toward him.


BC Hydro is providing the families of Rozenboom and Lehmann with grief counselling, said company spokeswoman Susan Danard.


Rozenboom had been with the company since 2000, Lehmann since 2005.


The Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate, with the chopper's wreckage transported yesterday to a lab in Richmond, B.C., for further analysis.

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Sincere condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. It is amazing how something like this can touch people all over the world. I received an email from a friend in Syria that heard about the accident and wanted to make sure I was ok (the pilot's name was unknown there). I'm sure people in Kenya will be similarly moved and many people around the globe will be touched and brought together in shared loss.



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I am very saddened by this news. I worked with Kyle a couple summers ago and considered him a friend. He was an exceptional human being. My thoughts are with all the families affected by this horrible tragedy.





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