Northern Escape Helicopter Crash

Northern Escape Heli Skiing confirmed that three people died when one of its helicopters crashed in the Skeena Mountains north of Terrace around 4pm Monday. Seven people were in the helicopter, the four others were taken to the Terrace hospital where two are in critical condition and two are in serious condition.

John Forrest, president of Northern Escape Heli-Skiing confirmed the fatalities in a news release while expressing condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives and those who were injured.

“The guests who ski with us and the staff who work with us each season are part of our family,” says Forrest.

“It is impossible to put into words the profound grief that we feel and the sorrow that our guests and our staff share. We hope you will respect the privacy of those impacted at this extremely difficult time.”

Forrest says more information on those killed in the crash will be released when those details are known.

At this time, he says, the company is focused on providing assistance and support to everyone impacted by the incident.

“We are grateful to all the outside agencies and our team who jumped into action immediately after the accident took place today.

“Northern Escape Heli-Skiing is focused on the safety of guests, staff and guides. It is our top priority and the most important work we do.

“We are working closely with the RCMP and other agencies to support the investigation into the cause of the incident.”

“It’s impossible to put into words the profound grief and sorrow that our guests and staff share right now,” Forrest said.

“We hope you’ll respect the privacy of those impacted at this extremely difficult time. Currently, our focus is on providing assistance and support to those who have been impacted, our guests and our staff remain our top priority.”

“All of our scheduled communications were happening according to our protocols,” he added. “During the time between calls, we received radio communications from one of our guests on one of our guest radios that the incident had occurred. At that time we activated our rescue protocells including immediately ceasing all skiing activities and activating search and rescue.”

Italian media reports that the passengers were prominent businessmen from the South Tyrol province.

One of the people killed was Heiner Junior (Heinzl) Oberrauch, the 29-year-old son of the founder of Italian sporting goods chain Sportler. His older brother and Sportler CEO Jakob Oberrauch, 34, was injured and is said to be in hospital and conscious, according to Italy’s news agency ANSA.

Sportler, which was founded in 1977, is one of Northern Italy’s largest sports retailers, with 26 stores in Italy and Austria.

Also killed was Andreas Widmann, 35, whose family owns TEXmarket, a textile company founded in 1987 that specializes in cycling apparel.

The deaths were confirmed by the Oberrauch and Widmann families to Italian media.

Among the injured are Johannes Peer, 34, also an executive with Sportler, and Emilio Zierock, 35, a fourth-generation winemaker who helps run his family’s Foradori Winery.

Northern Escape flys Augusta A119 Koala helicopters, which can carry up to eight people, and offers small group heli skiing for groups up to six. They have been leasing the same helicopters from Skyline Helicopters for the past 20 years.

The Skeena Mountains, also known as the Skeenas, are a subrange of the Interior Mountains of northern British Columbia, essentially flanking the upper basin of the Skeena River.

Powder Canada extends condolences to the families of the deceased and heart felt best wishes to all those involved. Accidents of this magnitude deeply affect many people.

Northern Escape have been awarded the World’s Best Heli-Ski Operator for the past two years. Read more about Northern Escape here.