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Pilot was 3rd fatality of helicopter crash near Terrace, B.C., passengers' family says

A undated photo taken from Northern Escape Heli-Skiing's Facebook page shows a helicopter landing in the B.C. mountains. The company confirmed that three people were killed in a helicopter crash during one of its excursions on Monday. (Northern Escape Heli-Skiing - image credit)
A undated photo taken from Northern Escape Heli-Skiing's Facebook page shows a helicopter landing in the B.C. mountains. The company confirmed that three people were killed in a helicopter crash during one of its excursions on Monday. (Northern Escape Heli-Skiing - image credit)

The pilot of the helicopter that crashed Monday on a mountain north of Terrace, B.C., was one of the three people killed, according to an Italian family that had two members on board the flight.

In an email to CBC News, the Oberrauch family also confirmed that a mountain guide was one of four people who were injured in the crash.

"Regrettably, Heiner Oberrauch Junior, 31, and Andreas Widmann, 35, both Italian citizens, along with the helicopter pilot (name and origin unknown to us), lost their lives in the tragic incident," said the email.

"Jakob Oberrauch, Johannes Peer, Emilio Zierock and a mountain guide (name and origin unknown to us) were seriously injured."

The family declined a request for further details in what it described as a "profoundly tragic" event.

"The family, in consideration of the sensitive nature of the situation, has chosen not to disclose any information regarding the health status of the injured individuals [and], respectfully, prefers not to participate in interviews at this time," said the email.

The Agusta A119 Koala helicopter that crashed was leased from Skyline Helicopters in Kelowna, B.C., by tour operator Northern Escape Heli-Skiing.

Neither the two companies, RCMP nor the B.C. Coroners Service have released the names of those killed or injured.

In a media conference Tuesday, Northern Escape Heli-Skiing president John Forrest said his company has been leasing the same helicopters from Skyline for 20 years.

"Every helicopter comes with a pilot and an engineer, and the engineer maintains the helicopter daily," he said. "So there was certainly no indication of any mechanical issues at all."

Forrest said the helicopter crashed near the top of a mountain. He said one of the clients on the flight called in the emergency on a guest radio.

A number of investigations are underway, including by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

A spokesperson for the TSB said investigators are in contact with the aircraft and engine manufacturers, along with the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV), Italy's civil aviation safety investigation authority.