One Survivor Found, One Body Recovered
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
03.12.09 1430 EDT (UPDATED 2230 EDT): One person has
been rescued and another presumed lost following
Thursday morning's downing of a Sikorsky S-92 in the North
Atlantic. The search continues for signs of the other 16 persons
reported onboard the helicopter, which was bound for two offshore
oil rigs off the coast of Newfoundland.
Rick Burt, general manager of operator Cougar Helicopters, told
Bloomberg the pilot reported engine problems while enroute to the
rigs. He pilot had turned back towards St. Johns when the aircraft
ditched in the ocean, about 31 miles off the coast.
Search crews have employed a number of fixed and rotary-wing
aircraft to search for other survivors. All people onboard were
wearing survival suits, which experts say should allow them to
survive in the frigid waters for about 30 hours.
First responders to the accident site reported wreckage strewn
on the water. They found two liferafts, though only
one carried survivor onboard. Robert Decker remained in
critical condition as of Thursday night, reports the New York
Crews also pulled one body from the water, which has not been
"This is a very difficult time for Cougar, our colleagues, our
customers and the families," Burt said Thursday afternoon. "We are
doing our best to support the rescue effort and to provide
information and assistance to the families."
The US National Transportation Safety Board announced it will
assist with the crash investigation, under the authority of the
Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada.
1100 EDT: A Sikorsky S-92 bound for offshore
oil platforms off the Newfoundland coast ditched in the North
Atlantic Thursday morning, and efforts are now underway to rescue
the people onboard.
A spokeswoman with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in
Halifax told The St. John's Telegram the helo, with 16 passengers
and two pilots onboard, appears to have made a controlled ditching
about 47 nm southeast of St. John's. The rotorcraft (type shown
above), operated by Cougar Helicopters, was transporting workers to
the Hibernia and White Rose oil fields when it went down at
approximately 9:20 am local time.
At least one person has been rescued so far, said spokeswoman
Jeri Grychowski. "There's a Cougar [S-]61 on scene and they've
recovered one person and they're en route to St. John's (hospital)
with the individual. I've just been told that one person has been
taken aboard the Cougar and was being taken to the Health Sciences
Centre. I don't know about whether they pulled out a second
Local hospitals have activated emergency plans to handle what
officials hope will be an influx of survivors. "We're trying to
clear emergency rooms as best we can to prepare for these people,"
said Elizabeth Strange with Eastern Health, the Newfoundland
Cougar Helicopters has not yet commented publicly on the
accident. According to the company's Web site, all persons flying
aboard Cougar rotorcraft are issued survival suits before boarding,
which include integrated life vests and personal locator