3 dead after plane crash near Fort Simpson, N.W.T., 2 survivors treated

Three people died and two people, including the pilot, were treated after a Simpson Air flight went down Thursday night in the Northwest Territories.

Female passenger, female pilot treated and released from local health centre

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada confirmed the Cessna 206, like this one in a photo on Simpson Air's Facebook page, went down Thursday night in the Northwest Territories. (Simpson Air & Nahanni Mountain Lodge/Facebook)

Three people died after a Simpson Air flight crashed Thursday night in the Northwest Territories, the Transportation Safety Board has confirmed.

The territorial Health and Social Services department says two survivors were treated and released.

The TSB said the crash happened at 6:35 p.m. MT and involved a Cessna 206. According to Damien Healy of Health and Social Services, the plane went down at Little Doctor Lake, near the North Nahanni River and west of the community of Fort Simpson.

Both survivors were assessed free of injuries by the physician and community health nurse.- Damien Healy, health dept. spokesperson

He said in an email that a female pilot and female passenger were flown to the Fort Simpson Health Centre late Thursday evening.

Initially he said it was a male pilot, but later confirmed it was a woman. 

"Both survivors were assessed free of injuries by the physician and community health nurse."

Healy said a counsellor provided support to the survivors overnight before both patients were released.

Airline staff 'in shock,' says MLA

There were four passengers from outside of the N.W.T. on the plane, and a local pilot, according to Shane Thompson, MLA for Nahendeh.

Thompson said he spoke with staff at the airline, who are "in shock." He says he's received a number of phone calls from community members who are "saddened by this sudden loss."

The MLA said he is waiting on an update from the N.W.T. Department of Infrastructure. A cabinet spokesperson said she hadn't spoken to the infrastructure minister, and queries should be directed to the health department.

A TSB spokesperson confirmed to CBC on Friday afternoon that the plane is currently under water in Little Doctor Lake.

A team of investigators was initially expected in the community on Saturday, but the TSB now says it will be Monday before they arrive. The spokesperson said that gives the RCMP and insurance company representatives time to recover the plane. 

In an interview, Insp. Amber Clark said the RCMP will recover the plane as soon as possible. RCMP is working to notify next of kin.

Little Doctor Lake in 2015. It's in this area that the plane went down on Thursday night. (Submitted by Lana de Bastiani)

Area's 2nd crash this week

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, RCMP confirmed they received a report of the crash, about 100 kilometres west of Fort Simpson, on Thursday evening.

"Fort Simpson RCMP officers are currently on scene and assisting Transport Canada with their investigation," the statement said.

Ted Grant, the owner of Simpson Air, wouldn't comment on the crash, deferring to the RCMP.

On its website, Simpson Air says its charters fly in the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Valley. It has been operating since the 1960s.

Grant also operates Nahanni Mountain Lodge on Little Doctor Lake, a remote wilderness lodge overlooking the Nahanni Mountain Range. The lodge is only accessible by float plane in the summer, according to the Simpson Air website. The lodge offers tours of the area and is a popular fishing spot.

This is the second plane crash in the N.W.T.'s Dehcho region this week. A plane, owned by South Nahanni Airways, went down in the small community of Nahanni Butte, on Wednesday. Several passengers and the pilot suffered minor injuries.

The incident happened at Little Doctor Lake, west of the community of Fort Simpson, according to the N.W.T.'s Health and Social Services department. (CBC)

With files from Hilary Bird, Kirsten Fenn