4 dead after New Year’s Day helicopter crash in northern Alberta

A file shot of a Robinson R-44 helicopter. Domenic Fazioli/Global News

Four people have died, all believed to have been part of one family, following a helicopter crash in northern Alberta on New Year’s Day.

Spirit River RCMP said officers were dispatched after receiving the call from an Emergency Location Transmitter on Jan. 1, from an area near Grande Prairie, Alta.

An ELT helps rescuers find aircraft and people in distress following an aircraft impact with terrain.

RCMP said in a media release Saturday that the transmitter signal had come from a Robinson R44 helicopter, a common design.

The downed helicopter was located in a farmer’s field in the Birch Hills County area, which is northeast of Grande Prairie.

When RCMP arrived on scene all four occupants were declared dead.

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“It appears to be a family of four,” said Sgt. Shawn French on Saturday. “I know the helicopter was privately owned. The exact nature of their trip is unknown.”

RCMP identified the father in the crash as Wade Balisky, and confirmed his wife and two daughters were the other victims. RCMP could not release the exact ages of the victims.

Officials said Saturday they have secured the crash scene and are awaiting the arrival of Nav Canada and Occupational Health and Safety investigators.

On Saturday, Transportation Canada said it was deploying a team of investigators to the site.

The cause of the crash is still being determined.

Grande Prairie is located about 450 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.


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