Joined: May 08, 2005 Posts: 1078 Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:44 pm Post subject: Logging Vertol Crashes in BC
Logging copter breaks up, two killed
Crash southwest of Bella Coola brings forest industry death toll to 36 this year
Two heli-logging pilots died Thursday when their helicopter apparently broke up in mid-air and went down in a remote area southwest of Bella Coola, bringing the death toll in the B.C. forest industry this year to 36.
The twin-blade helicopter, a Boeing Vertol 107, had been logging an Interfor cutblock on South Bentinck Arm, 400 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, and was returning to a nearby floating camp when it crashed.
Dead are pilots Duncan Ruth, 36, of Victoria, and Clayton Shearcroft, 26, of Maple Ridge, both of whom died at the scene.
The two deaths add to the forest industry's grim record of fatalities and serious injuries for the year. The 36 deaths in just over 10 months compare to 16 in 2004, 26 in 2003, and 31 in 2002. That is a record that a growing number of loggers say has to be recognized as unacceptable by workers, industry and the government.
"No log is worth losing a life over," Jim Girvan, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association, said when he heard of Thursday's fatalities. "We have got to do something to fix this."
"The helicopter had been involved in heli-logging operations and was returning to camp when it crashed," said investigator Bill Yearwood, of the federal Transportation Safety Board. "Information gathered at the site during a preliminary examination by the TSB is consistent with that found when an aircraft breaks up in flight."
The cause of the crash remains unknown, but Yearwood said at this point weather is not a consideration.
"We know it was not far from the intended landing site when it went down. We hope somebody saw it," said Yearwood.
The fatalities mark the second and third deaths this year of loggers working for Helifor. A faller died on the ground in April when a root ball rolled on him. Helifor is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Interfor, where another three loggers have died this year working either for the company or its contractors.
"We are at a loss right now to explain what happened," Interfor vice-president and chief forester Ric Slaco said of Thursday's crash. "These were experienced pilots. Helifor has been in the business since 1978, and this is the first accident involving a Boeing Vertol 107.
"This is tragic in terms of the impact it has on people and on families," Slaco said.
Logger deaths have for too long been considered a fact-of-life in the woods that attract little attention, said faller Bill Boardman, who heard of Thursday's fatalities through an informal logger grapevine.
"I call it a conspiracy of silence. There is a quiet butchery going on out in these woods," Boardman said.
Other safety activists say they want to see the industry's record of fatalities made an issue with shareholders.
"These big companies have to report back to their shareholders," said Mike McKibbin, president of the Western Fallers Association. "It's important that the shareholders know what is going on.
"I think we kill off more forest workers in this province than they do in Third-World countries that are logging."
Darrel Wong, president of the coast logging local of the Steelworkers Union, said Thursday's crash came as a further shock to a logging community already numb from the high number of fatalities. He said Helifor has had a good safety record, making the crash even more puzzling.
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum