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Inquest opens into 2017 deaths of Hydro One workers killed in helicopter crash

June 5, 2023  By The Canadian Press


An inquest into the deaths of four Hydro One employees killed in a December 2017 helicopter crash in eastern Ontario has begun.

The employees — 39-year-old James Baragar, 27-year-old Kyle Shorrock and 26-year-olds Jeff Howes and Darcy Jansen — were working on a transmission tower in Tweed, Ont., and crashed when their chopper was approaching to land.

The inquest into their deaths will largely focus on the procedures related to attaching tool bags to external platforms on Hydro One helicopters, an accepted practice at the time of the deadly crash.

A 2019 report from the Transportation Safety Board found an improperly secured tool bag hit the rear rotor of the helicopter, causing it to crash into a snow-covered field, killing pilot Baragar and power line technicians Shorrock, Howes and Jansen.

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The inquest is expected to last 15 days and hear from approximately 10 witnesses, including Hydro One workers who were present on the day of the crash, other helicopter pilots and Transport Canada representatives.

Presiding officer David Eden told the inquest jury its objective is to determine the circumstances surrounding the men’s deaths and possibly make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.

Inquest counsel Kristin Smith told the jury that witnesses will not testify about the crash itself, injuries or the autopsy report as those issues are not in dispute and risk retraumatizing witnesses and family.

She also says the inquest won’t hear whether the three power line technicians were wearing seatbelts given there is no dispute that the impact of the crash would have been fatal regardless.

The TSB found that two of the seatbelts in the helicopter’s passenger area were unfastened and Howes, Jansen and Shorrock fell out of the helicopter and sustained fatal injuries from the aircraft¬†or terrain, while pilot Baragar remained strapped in his seat and died of injuries in the crash.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2021

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