Four people who died in a helicopter crash on New Year’s Day are being identified by loved ones as members of a strong and loving farm family from a small community in northern Alberta.
The families of 45-year-old Wade Balisky and 37-year-old Aubrey Balisky said in a joint statement that they are grappling with the loss of the couple and two of their children, eight-year-old Jewel and two-year-old Fleur.
Aurellea Balisky, first cousin of Wade Balisky, told Global News she will remember the couple as kind and caring, helping people wherever they could.
“Aubrey was a talented photographer and was all about her kids,” Balisky said via email. “Wade loved ranching, farming and flying.”
Balisky said there were many pilots in the family, including Wade.
Balisky said she and her cousin Wade share many fond memories together.
“As a kid, I was scared of most things farming and ranching because I was a very cautious child. Wade always made sure to invite me along on adventures, even when he knew I was going to say ‘no’. He was like that. He made everyone feel included. He was a good cousin,” she said.
The family said Wade and Aubrey are survived by their three other children, 16-year-old Chevey, 14-year-old Remington and 12-year-old Indya.
Balisky said the family feels “terrible pain” but she knows they will remain strong through support and faith.
The family lived together in the small farming community of DeBolt, Alta., about 45 kilometres east of Grande Prairie.
RCMP have said emergency responders received an emergency signal from a Robinson R44 helicopter and arrived to find the aircraft crashed in a field in nearby Birch Hills county with no survivors.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“We have been devastated by our sudden loss of Wade, Aubrey, Jewel and Fleur,” the Balisky and Warkentin families said in a joint statement.
“Chevey, Remington and Indya will need your prayers, love and support as they grapple with the loss of their father, mother and sisters. They know that they were loved and are loved.”
On Monday, a spokesperson from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada told Global News the agency is still completing its investigation, which typically includes a pilot’s training and experience, aircraft maintenance and information gathered from air traffic control.
–With files from Global News’ Morgan Black