Canada

Helicopter pilot and passenger died after crash

The two men killed in Wednesday's crash of a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter off Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula died of drowning or hypothermia, said a coroner's report.

The two men killed in Wednesday's crash of a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter off Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula died of drowning or hypothermia, said a coroner's report.

Pilot Gord Simmons, 65, and technician Carl Neal, 46, died after the aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Marystown late Wednesday afternoon.

The office of Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical examiner said Friday that autopsy examinations show "both individuals died as a result of post-impact events, either by drowning or hypothermia."

The coast guard commissioner said on Thursday that the bodies were discovered wearing "flotation devices."

The Canadian Coast Guard is still searching for the main frame of the downed helicopter, a MBB 105 chopper. Searchers haven't been able to find the underwater locator beacon from the helicopter. Some minor debris has been recovered.

The coast guard says it has no idea why the helicopter crashed but says there was no issue with the pilot's age, or with the condition of the 22-year-old helicopter.

Weather not a factor

Weather is also not considered to be a major factor in the accident.

Coast guard officials say Simmons called colleagues as he was landing at Go By Point, a bit of rough terrain at the ocean's edge.

No one lives there, but there is a landing pad and a navigational tower. Simmons and Neal were scheduled to do maintenance work.

There was no radio communication from the men when they made their way back to the mainland.

The helicopter was on a routine mission to check an aid to a navigational site at Go-By-Point. The helicopter was on its way back to Marystown when it apparently ran into trouble.

Neal had been with the coast guard for more than a decade. Simmons was one of the oldest helicopter pilots in Newfoundland, with more than 25 years experience with the coast guard.

No history of problems

The MBB-105 helicopter has no history of problems. Officials say it appears that a device designed to notify authorities when an aircraft crashes failed to activate.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Paul Martin sent his condolences to the families of the two men.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of these two persons," said Martin in a statement.

A funeral for Neal will be held Sunday, while a funeral for Simmons is set for Monday.

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