DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. – An investigation is underway into a helicopter crash Thursday evening in a snow-covered field near Drummondville, Que., that claimed the lives of three people.
Quebec provincial police said Friday the crash occurred at about 9 p.m. just north of the city about 110 kilometres northeast of Montreal. The victims, two women and one man, have not yet been identified.
Police said the helicopter caught fire after it crashed on the banks of the Saint-Francois River in Saint-Joachim-de-Courval, Que.
First responders had a difficult time getting to the scene because of deep snow. A snow removal machine was brought in from the city of Drummondville to help them get to the site.
Marc Descoteaux, who owns a farm not far from where the helicopter crashed, said he smelled smoke as he did some work Thursday evening.
“It was a burning smell, not a wood-burning smell, but more like metal or solder,” Descoteaux said in a phone interview. “Before going home, I saw a fire in the middle of a field about 800 metres from my house.”
Thinking it was a snowmobile on fire, he called his nephew to go have a look. The field is considered part of the farm land, but it is devoid of any buildings.
His nephew accessed the area by snowmobile. Realizing it was a helicopter, Descoteaux said they called police. “A helicopter at night in the neighbourhood is very rare,” he said of his rural area. “We get very few cars at night, let alone helicopters.”
His brother used a snowblower to make a path for the first officers and emergency personnel at the scene.
Provincial police spokesman Hugo Fournier said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash, including weather conditions last night. Details on the helicopter’s origin and destination have not been released.
Transportation Safety Board investigators also arrived at the scene on Friday, Fournier said.