Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board will begin to search for the cause of helicopter crash that killed the pilot and lone occupant of the aircraft on Tuesday.
Campbell River RCMP and the Campbell River Fire Department responded to the crash near Spit Road at around 11:25 a.m.
“The helicopter appeared to be in trouble, circled a couple of times, then flipped upside down and crashed near the First Nations cemetery,” one person told CHEK Videographer Dean Stoltz.
The helicopter caught fire after crashing and also set a nearby carving shed alight.
The fire department doused the flames, while boaters from the nearby marina also responded with their own fire extinguishers.
Police said the helicopter was locally owned and used for commercial operations.
The pilot was identified in a tweet by B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena as Ed Wilcock. The tweet, thanking first responders, has since been deleted.
Wilcock’s friend and former business partner Bill Alder confirmed the death, saying the loss of Wilcock will leave a significant void in the local helicopter industry.
“I miss him already,” said Alder. “He was just so large, particularly in the helicopter industry, I mean every single person in the local industry — in the helicopters — knew Ed.”
“He was kind of the default person, if you needed to know something or know what was going on in the logging industry or what was happening, he knew it all. He had his finger on it all,” he said.
Alder said he and Wilcock started the helicopter company, E & B Helicopters, together and ran it together for about 10 years before Alder left it to focus on his other company, Sealand Aviation.
“He was the E and I was the B,” said Alder of the company the men founded together.
He said if anyone ever wanted to get in touch with Wilcock on Christmas Day, they knew they could find him by calling the office — a testament to his work ethic.
With files from CBC