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A relative of two people who were hurt in a plane crash in northern Saskatchewan Wednesday night said he is praying for their recovery and thankful for the efforts of first responders who helped them.
Darryl McDonald said his 70-year-old mother, Ernestine, suffered a broken jaw and facial injuries when the plane went down with 25 people aboard about a kilometre from the airstrip near the remote community of Fond Du Lac.
There were no fatalities.
Ernestine was being flown to a hospital in Saskatoon and McDonald’s sister Brenda was being taken to a clinic in Stony Rapids for treatment of injuries to her legs, he said.
RCMP said the aircraft went down at around 6:15 p.m. There was no explosion or fire. One of the passengers is an infant.
Rick Philipenko is the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of West Wind Airlines. He confirmed it was one of the company’s planes that crashed.
“There were no fatalities,” Philipenko told 620 CKRM’s Christina Cherneskey. “The extent of the injuries is still unknown, other than there were five people that required medi-vac attention. But they were non-life-threatening injuries.”
He says West Wind has an emergency response group for this very reason — so there is no question as to what needs to be done in an emergency
“We train for incidents like this,” Philipenko said. “First and foremost is the well-being of the passengers and the crew. Because with all the hectic-ness of this kind of incident, it’s really important that they are the focus.”
Philipenko says the site is now controlled by investigation officials.
“It’s a site controlled by the authorities and the Transport Safety Board,” Philipenko said. “We’re an observer when we are there on site. Our role primarily is to make sure the passengers are crew are looked after. And trying to understand the status of the investigation.”
The Royal Canadian Air Force said it had sent a Hercules transport aircraft and a helicopter to help.
The Transportation Safety Board said a team of investigators will arrive in the community Thursday. Transportation Minister Marc Garneau issued a statement about the crash.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to convey our thoughts for those affected by this accident, and our appreciation for the efforts of local first responders,” he said from Ottawa.
“The Government of Canada is co-ordinating the activity of Transport Canada, Department of National Defence, and the RCMP in responding to this accident.”
Fond Du Lac is a mainly Dene community on the east side of Lake Athabasca.
(By John Cotter in Edmonton, The Canadian Press, Christina Cherneskey, with a file from MBC)