Verbiski survives crash

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Local media slow to pick up major story

Kudos to The Telegram, who had some details this morning of what in my opinion is one of the biggest news stories of the day. The story was also mentioned on the CBC Radio Morning Show, but I've not heard it in any other local media (and I was reading about it online last night, so it was certainly out there).

Chris Verbiski, the co-discoverer of the Voisey's Bay nickel resource, is lucky to be alive after a helicopter crash yesterday near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. There were four people on the aircraft, including a six-month-old baby, who was not injured. In fact, no one was seriously injured in the incident.

The co-owner of Archean Resources (with Al Chislett), Verbiski is one of the most wealthy people in this province. I've met him and found him to be a likeable, down-to-earth individual, apparently unaffected by his multi-million dollar fortune.

Here's an online story from the Cody Enterprise newspaper. You can also read The Telegram's online story here.

Four people were rescued safely Tuesday after a helicopter crashed on Ptarmigan Mountain.

The accident site is 12 miles east of Yellowstone Park on the Wapiti Ridge, located between the north and south drainages of the Shoshone River.

"At the area they hit on, 100 yards southeast or west dropped off into steep cliffs," Sheriff Scott Steward said. "It could have been a sad outcome. The area was treacherous."

The group was flying from Helena and was planning a stop in Riverton for refueling before going on to Colorado Springs, Colo.

The pilot attempted to land on Ptarmigan Peak to let the passengers out to take a break when the helicopter lost power and crashed at 12:45 p.m. The helicopter, a 2001 Agusta A-119, is registered to Coordinates Capital Corp., out of St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada.

Helicopter owner Chris Verbiski, 39, of Newfoundland, was transported by Air Idaho to West Park Hospital, where he was treated for injuries and released. Pilot Adam Walsh, 33, and passengers Jennifer Gulliver, 40, and Nikola Verbiski, 6 months, all from Newfoundland, were not injured. A small dog survived the accident unhurt.

"When we landed the infant was smiles and happy, so that was a good sign," Steward said.

Park County Search and Rescue was contacted at 2:30 p.m. and the Search and Rescue plane was launched to locate the aircraft. It received a signal from the helicopter's Emergency Transmitter Locator at about 3:15 p.m.

The downed aircraft was located 15 minutes later at 11,900 feet on the west end of Ptarmigan Peak.

The sheriff's plane dropped a radio in an attempt to make contact with the accident victims. Once radio communications were established, Verbiski's injury was reported.

Air Idaho arrived on scene at 4:20 p.m., followed by a helicopter from Worland with Park County Search and Rescue members and EMTs from West Park Hospital.

An Army Blackhawk medivac helicopter from Montana arrived on scene at 4:35 p.m. Following the accident, Walsh had contacted an Air Force rescue hot line by satellite phone and was connected to a dispatch center in Langley, Va., which notified the Montana National Guard and sent the Blackhawk.

With the additional help, crash victims and all rescue workers were able to be flown out before dark.

"It was getting dark by the time we left and if they hadn't arrived we would have had to do a night flight or have left a few rescue workers on the mountain until morning," Steward said.

Winds blew at about 30 mph and the temperature was 24 degrees at the site. Most of the damage was to the skids of the helicopter, which were bent out underneath it, Steward said. The helicopter was sitting upright.

It is unknown if the strong winds at the time played any part in the accident. Investigation in to the cause of the crash has been turned over to the NTSB and FAA.

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Recent comments

  • Bernadette Wiseman
    June 15, 2011 - 00:05

    Chris is my cousin once removed. His Dad, Mort is my first cousin with my Mother and his Dad being brother and sister. I remember taking Chris for a drive around town when he was only about a year and a half old. He was the sweetest of babies! His family was home in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia where Mort was born and raised, to visit his parents, Lexie and Aulay Verbiski, my aunt and uncle.