Final 7 victims recovered from N.L. helicopter crash

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    ST. JOHN’S — The remaining seven victims of last week’s helicopter crash off the Newfoundland coast were returned to St. John’s early Tuesday morning, according to the RCMP.

    Around 1 a.m., the seven bodies were unloaded from the Atlantic Osprey, a private ship which had led the recovery effort in recent days.

    From there, the bodies were taken to a hospital where the province’s chief medical examiner will perform autopsies to determine causes of death.

    All of the 17 people killed in the Cougar Helicopters’ Sikorsky S-92 crash on Thursday have now been accounted for, said Sgt. Wayne Newell.

    There was one survivor.

    Newell said that despite the tragic circumstances, he was pleased that the recovery effort had proceeded quickly and smoothly. “It’s been a tremendous relief (for the families),” he said. “(The recovery operations) have gone better than expected. You never know if you’re going to find everyone.”

    Newell said the process of extracting the bodies from the sunken wreckage was a tedious one. A remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, had to descend nearly 180 metres to the ocean floor.

    Then, after a body was recovered from the crash, it was placed in a basket and raised to the surface.

    Despite early reports that searchers did not receive signals from personal locator beacons installed in the crew’s survival suits, investigators now say rescue crews received signals from the two people found the morning of the crash.

    Both Robert Decker — the only survivor — and Allison Maher, whose funeral took place Monday, were lifted from the ocean’s surface within 90 minutes of the crash last Thursday morning.

    Decker has been recuperating in hospital, where he is listed in critical but stable condition. Police hope to speak to him later this week.

    A funeral was held Monday in Fermeuse, N.L. for Maher, 26, the first identified victim.

    Six of the other 16 victims have been positively identified by their next of kin, said Newell, but he could not say which ones.

    The 14 other named victims who were onboard the helicopter are: the captain, Matthew Davis, 34, of St. John’s; first officer Tim Lanouette, 48, of Comox, B.C.; Thomas Anwyll, 46, of Langley, B.C.; Peter Breen, 55, of St. John’s; Gary Corbett, 46, of Conception Bay South, N.L.; Wade Drake, 42, of Fortune, N.L., Wade Duggan, 32, of Witless Bay, N.L.; Colin Henley, 38, of St. John’s; Ken MacRae, 47, of Greenwood, N.S.; Derrick Mullowney, 51, of Bay Bulls, N.L.; Burch Nash, 44, of Fortune, N.L.; Paul Pike, 49, of Spaniard’s Bay, N.L.; Corey Eddy, 32, of Paradise, N.L.; and John Pelley, 41, of Deer Lake, N.L.

    Two names have not yet been released.

    A memorial service is being planned for the victims on Wednesday at a church in St. John’s.

    The remains of the helicopter are to be lifted out later this week.

    With files from St. John’s Telegram, Bradley Bouzane

    © Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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