Bodies of Nicole and Jody Blais found in helicopter wreckage
After one week of searching, crews find wreckage in wooded area west of Timmins airport
Ontario Provincial Police say they have found the bodies of 49-year-old Jody Blais and 47-year old Nicole Blais, both of Kapuskasing.
The couple had been missing since March 4, when their helicopter left from Sudbury, but did not arrive at its destination of Kapuskasing.
Captain Marty Zimmer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, who was the search master tasked with finding the helicopter, said wreckage was found west of the Timmins airport, in a wooded area, and partially covered by snow.
Zimmer said both occupants had been found in the wreckage, and confirmed they did not survive the crash.
Zimmer added that the frequent snow in the area was a challenge in finding the site, as crews relied primarily on visual identification on numerous passes — he estimates crews flew over the area 8 times— before locating the helicopter.
"We had about 75 people who were involved from the Royal Canadian Air Force and at one point I think we had up to eleven or twelve modern aircraft that were involved in the search," Zimmer said.
Zimmer said the RCAF also received support from the Canadian Armed Forces, the Civil Air Search and rescue, the Coast Guard and the Ontario Provincial Police. These were in addition to volunteers organized by the Blais family, who searched on the ground.
The crews who discovered the wreckage will remain at the site until it can be secured by Ontario Provincial Police, Zimmer said.
The investigation is now turning over to the Ontario Provincial Police and the Transportation Safety Board, Zimmer said.
The TSB's mandate includes conducting "...independent investigations, including public inquiries when necessary, into selected transportation occurrences in order to make findings as to their causes and contributing factors," their website states.
"It's just unfortunate that the outcome was not what we were expecting," Zimmer said. "[We were] hoping to bring loved ones back to their family."