Northern Escape Victims Named
Pilot Mark McGowan and guide Lewis Ainsworth were named today in a joint statement from Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and Skyline Helicopters that expressed condolences to the victims’ families and friends.
Gareth Shanks with Skyline says the company is devastated by the loss of McGowan, who is described as a phenomenal pilot and a much-loved part of their team for the past two decades.
Ainsworth was among the four taken to hospital, but family and friends in his home country of New Zealand say he has since died of his injuries. Ainsworth was president of the Zealand Mountain Guides Association, according to a Facebook post from the group mourning his loss.
The three other injured passengers remain in stable condition, RCMP said on Monday.
The other two deaths were Italian guests who 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.
In a positive development, the RCMP and the Terrace Search and Rescue team successfully led a recovery mission on January 28th to bring back the bodies of the three individuals who tragically lost their lives in the helicopter crash on January 22nd.
Northern Escape, in collaboration with their mutual aid neighbor, White Wilderness Heliskiing, rallied their combined decades of training and experience to safely transport four injured patients down the mountain for further medical care immediately after the accident. This complex rescue mission received invaluable off-mountain support from the BC Ambulance Service, the medical staff at Mills Memorial Hospital, the RCMP, and the dedicated volunteers of the Terrace Search and Rescue team.
Following the successful evacuation of the injured individuals, the helicopter accident site was closed, necessitating the involvement of the RCMP, Terrace Search and Rescue, and other agencies in the crucial task of recovering those who had tragically lost their lives.
The recovery mission for the three individuals has been completed, bringing some closure to their grieving families. Safety and expediency were paramount throughout the process, and the successful recovery represents a significant step in the healing journey for all affected.
The operators of Northern Escape expressed their gratitude to everyone involved in the rescue and recovery missions. They extended their thanks to each Northern Escape team member, White Wilderness Heliskiing, HeliCat Canada, BC Ambulance Service, the medical professionals at Mills Memorial Hospital, the RCMP, and Terrace Search and Rescue. The collective effort of these dedicated individuals and organizations was instrumental in ensuring the safe and swift resolution of this tragic incident.
Powder Canada expresses our deepest condolences to the families, fellow workers, and friends of the deceased, and to all those involved in this terrible tragedy.