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4 dead in Hydro One helicopter crash in eastern Ontario

Click to play video 'Hydro One helicopter crash in eastern Ontario leaves four dead' Hydro One helicopter crash in eastern Ontario leaves four dead
WATCH ABOVE: Hydro One says four of its employees were killed in a helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Thursday. Abigail Bimman reports from the scene. – Dec 14, 2017

Hydro One says four of its employees were killed in a helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Thursday.

Ontario Provincial Police say they were called to scene near Upper Flinton Road at about 12:30 p.m. Emergency crews, including Ontario’s air ambulance service responded, though ORNGE said it did not transport any patients.

Kim Clayton, who lives near the crash site, said she went to the window after she heard a loud crash.

“It kind of shook the house. It didn’t sound like what a normal helicopter should sound like,” she said on 640 Toronto. “And I’m thinking in my head, I’m going ‘Oh my God, I think the helicopter just crashed,'” she said.

LISTEN: Witness Kim Clayton joins Tasha Kheirddin on 640 Toronto

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She explained the helicopter had been working in the area and landing in an open field for past week. Earlier in the day, she had seen it circle around a treeline to land, and that’s where the crash occurred.

“I couldn’t see the helicopter, but then I could see, like, parts of it in the trees,” she said.

She said she saw crews on the ground who told her to call 911.

ONTARIO HELICOPTER CRASH

In a statement, Hydro One said the safety of its employees is “paramount” and said the crash will be investigated by the appropriate agencies.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time. During this grieving process, we will do everything we can to assist our employees and their families who have been affected in any way, by providing counseling and support.”

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The utility said the names of the victims is not being released as next of kin were being notified.

A Hydro One helicopter crashed on Dec. 14 near Upper Flinton Road in Tweed, killing four. Kim Clayton
O.P.P. and Hydro One trucks stand near a Hydro One crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. Four Hydro One employees were killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in eastern Ontario, police and the utility reported.The crash occurred about noon in Tweed, north of Kingston, provincial police said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
O.P.P. and Hydro One trucks stand near a Hydro One crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. Four Hydro One employees were killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in eastern Ontario, police and the utility reported.The crash occurred about noon in Tweed, north of Kingston, provincial police said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
O.P.P. and Hydro One trucks stand near a Hydro One crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. Four Hydro One employees were killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in eastern Ontario, police and the utility reported.The crash occurred about noon in Tweed, north of Kingston, provincial police said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims.

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There is no official word on the cause of crash or the circumstances leading up to it. A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board said a team of investigators were en route to the crash site and were expected by late afternoon.

Alex Fournier said the chopper was a 1999 AS350 B2. The single-engine helicopters are often used for corporate purposes and by police.

Aviation expert Jock Williams explained that any pilot hired by Hydro One would have to be very experienced, possibly specializing in that kind of work, as flying near hydro wires and towers is very risky.

“A hydro cable is more than enough to take out a rotor,” he told The John Oakley Show on 640 Toronto.

LISTEN: Jock Williams joins the John Oakley Show

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In July 2007, the same model of helicopter clipped a guy wire and crashed in Moosonee, Ont., seriously injuring a Hydro One worker and the pilot.

And in January 2015, an AS350 crashed in Saskatchewan during hydro cable stringing, seriously injuring the pilot. In both cases, pilot error was to blame.

-With files from The Canadian Press