Pilot killed in Yukon helicopter crash

One person has died and another person has been seriously injured after a helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon in southern Yukon.

Helicopter crashed near Nares Lake Tuesday afternoon

Nares Lake is located in south-central Yukon. (Google Maps)

The RCMP said Wednesday the pilot was killed and another man was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when a helicopter crashed in southern Yukon.

Cpl. Rob Morin with the Carcross RCMP said the helicopter crashed about 10 kilometres east of Carcross, Yukon, on the north side of Nares Lake near Nares Mountain.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria, B.C., said the helicopter went down at about 3:15 p.m. local time. The rescue centre spokesperson added that a Horizon helicopter flew paramedics and a doctor to the scene.

The police are not releasing the name of the pilot or the man who was injured. A spokesperson for the Whitehorse Hospital said the injured man had spinal cord injuries and been medevaced to Vancouver. RCMP investigators are talking to the third occupant of the helicopter, who was released from the Whitehorse hospital.

The Yukon Environment Department's spokesperson, Nancy Campbell, said the government had hired Horizon Helicopters to work on a grizzly bear survey. Besides the pilot, there two researchers on board, one was a Yukon government employee and the other was a contractor hired for the survey.

The downed helicopter was a Robinson R44 II, owned by Whitehorse-based Horizon Helicopters.

Cole Hodinski, the company's owner, said investigators from the Transportation Safety Board are on their way to Whitehorse to begin an investigation. He said he cannot talk about the crash, but added both he and his employees are devastated.

Tourism minister Mike Nixon tweeted his condolences to the family of the pilot and said it was the pilot's heroism that saved the two passengers.

Local speculation is focused on high winds which buffeted southwest Yukon Tuesday afternoon.

RCMP Cpl. Rob Morin said the cause of the crash has not been determined, "Although the wind conditions in Carcross were quite substantial, I don't have any information that had anything to do with the crash."

Jon Lee, the regional manager for the Transportation Safety Board, said the investigation will focus on three things, what role the pilot, the aircraft and the environment played in the crash.