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3 Die In Cormorant Crash Off Nova Scotia

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Three military personnel were killed and four injured early Thursday morning when a search and rescue helicopter crashed during a training exercise off Canso, N.S.


"It suddenly ditched" at about 12:30 a.m. AT. while doing a hoist exercise with a coast guard vessel, Capt. John Pulchny told CBC News.


The CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron was based in Greenwood, N.S.


Three of the injured are in Greenwood, while the fourth has been airlifted to hospital in Halifax.


Names of the victims and the injured have not been released.


"This all happened quite fast … We're trying to piece together what happened," Pulchny said.


The helicopter radioed the ship, saying it was going to ditch.


"Three were found dead in the helicopter," while rescuers reached the others, Pulchny said.


Barry Lumsden, deputy mayor of Canso, said the crew of a local fishing boat helped to rescue the survivors.


"They fished them out the water. I don't know exactly how because the fog was tremendously thick at the time, but they found them," he said.


The helicopter is floating and is being recovered.


Military aircraft and Canadian Coast Guard vessels are on the scene.


RCMP from Canso were also assisting.

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Three crew members were killed and four were injured early Thursday morning when a Canadian Forces search-and rescue helicopter crashed during a routine training exercise off Canso, N.S.


The CH-149 Cormorant helicopter "suddenly ditched" at about 12:30 a.m. AT during a hoist exercise with a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, said military officials during a news conference at CFB Greenwood.


The downed helicopter was pulled from the water Thursday by a recovery vessel.

Courtesy John Green

"It was a very normal training evolution," Lt.-Col. Tom Hughes, commander of 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, where the helicopter was based.


"We do it frequently. It is one of our bread and butter missions to go and hoist people off of boats in darkness."


Hughes, whose voice was tight with emotion as he spoke, said everyone on the base has pulled together to support the families of the victims and the injured.


"We are obviously deeply stricken with the emotion such an accident brings," Hughes.


Military officials in Nova Scotia identified the dead as:


Sgt. Dwayne Brazil, 39, a flight engineer from Gander, NL, who was married with two daughters.


Master Cpl. Kirk Noel, 33, a SAR tech from St. Anthony, NL, who was not married.


Cpl. Trevor McDavid, 31, a flight engineer from Sudbury, Ont., who was married with two daughters.


Two of the injured, identified as Cpt. Ron Bush, 40 and Sgt. Marty Maloney, 48, are in a Halifax hospital with injuries that are serious but not life-threatening.


The other two injured crewmembers, Capt. Gabriel Ringuette, 41, and Maj. Gordon Ireland, 42, are in hospital in Antigonish.


Routine training exercise


They crew was conducting a hoisting exercise when their helicopter crashed, said officials. The exercise is a common training manoeuvre, in which a helicopter hovers above a ship or water as someone is lowered down to complete the rescue.


The incident happened so fast that it doesn't appear the crew had a chance to radio in, said CBC reporter Rob Gordon.


"If one of the Cormorant's three engines cuts out, the helicopter cannot stay airborne," Gordon said.


First word of the crash came from a nearby Canadian Coast Guard vessel. A local fishing boat that was taking part in the training exercise picked up the survivors, said Barry Lumsden, deputy mayor of Canso.


"They fished them out the water. I don't know exactly how because the fog was tremendously thick at the time, but they found them," he said.


"They're responsible for them being alive today."


Two divers found the three dead crew members in the partially submerged aircraft, Lumsden said.


The downed helicopter was brought to Mulgrave, N.S. by the coast guard ship Earl Grey. A flight safety team from Ottawa is on its way to the scene to investigate the incident.


History of problems


Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead crew members.


"It is my hope that they find some solace in the knowledge that they do no grieve alone. Canada mourns the loss of these men," Harper said in a statement.


In Halifax, the Nova Scotia government has lowered the flag outside Province House to half-mast.


Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said he honoured the memory of the victims and is "humbled by their sacrifice."


The Canadian Forces' fleet of Cormorants, which are no stranger to flight restrictions, have been suspended from all but emergency flights.


The fleet was previously restricted to emergency operations in April 2004, after a British Royal Navy Merlin helicopter similar to the Cormorant crashed, injuring five people. Hairline cracks in the helicopter's tail rotor were blamed.


The Cormorant and Merlin helicopters are both manufactured by Augusta-Westland Industries and share similar components, said the military.


Earlier that year, Canada's Cormorants were also placed on restricted duty over concerns about potential fuel leaks.

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Tthe CBC was reporting earlier that Brazil's brother also died at age 39 in a he

licopter crash. If this is true it is a horrible tragedy for the family.






Brazil, who was born in Gander, N.L., was married with two daughters.


In a tragically ironic twist, his brother, Gary Brazil, died in a coast guard helicopter crash into the ocean off Newfoundland in 2000. He was also 39 at the time.

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Very sad indeed, my condolences to the families involved. This one hits close to home.


Anyone know what caused this one? One account said clear skies last nite, it was calm but black out. Another account said that "the fog was tremendously thick" around Canso last night.


Not going to speculate as to why the cockpit is missing in that pic... :shock:


As I understand of the three fallen, two were flight engineers and one was the hoist operator.

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Two were Flight Engineers. The Flight Engineer operates the hoist and looks after the mechanical aspects of the helicopter while away from base. The third was a Search and Rescue Technician.


Thoughts and prayers to the families of the fallen and to the 413 Squadron and Canadian Forces Search and Rescue community. :(

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