At Kestrel Helicopters near Parksville, there was a sense of shock Thursday, after a pilot with the company died in a crash Wednesday.
The owner with an emotional voice on the phone declined to comment saying the investigation needs to take its course.
“Everyone that knows him is devastated. People that we’ve talked to nobody can believe it yet like everybody is still in shock,” said Randy Haberland.
The deceased pilot, who’s been identified by friends as Brent Fedirchuk had recently turned 50, was a father and a resident of Port Alberni.
“He was a great person. Easy to get along with. He was loved by everybody. There’s not a single bad thing I can say about him. He had a young family too,” said Haberland, who worked with Fedirchuk for 22 years.
Haberland said he first learned about the helicopter crash through the news.
“That a helicopter went down near Sayward bang. I knew right away who it was because I was supposed to be there because I was part of that fly right but I had a truck problem so I didn’t make it out there,” said Haberland.
On Wednesday morning the Fedirchuk had flown from Kestrel’s Parksville base to a rural area north of Sayward.
He had just started a day of trips moving, salvaged wood from the forest floor, to be used for making shakes or shingles, to a nearby road.
It was around 9 a.m. when something went wrong.
“He knew he was in trouble. He radioed and put out a distress signal and the last words he said was I’m going down and I guess he dropped from about 250 feet,” said Haberland.
Helicopter Association International says the helicopter being used — a Hughes 369D/MD 500 — is generally a very safe and versatile helicopter that’s used globally for a variety of operations.
The Transportation Safety Board says it sent two investigators to the crash scene where they will document the scene and decide the next steps of the investigation.