An Ontario Superior Court judge has found ORNGE not guilty of federal labour code offences stemming from a fatal helicopter crash in northern Ontario in 2013 that killed two pilots and two paramedics.
Just after midnight on May 31, 2013, a Sikorsky S-76 chopper belonging to ORNGE took off from an airport in Moosonee, Ont., with pilots Jacques Dupuy and Don Filliter, and paramedics Dustin Dagenais and Chris Snowball aboard.
They were headed to Attawapiskat, Ont., 280 kilometres away, to evacuate a critically ill patient.
The helicopter crashed into the woods only about a mile away from the runway it took off from and all four occupants died upon impact.
An investigation by Transport Canada blamed the crash on a number of factors, including inadequate training provided by Ornge.
“The pilots had not received sufficient and adequate training to prepare them for the challenges they faced that night,” Transport Canada investigators wrote in their report. “Nor did the company's standard operating procedures (SOPs) address the hazards specific to night operations.”
As a result of the findings, Ornge was charged with Labour Code offences of failing to ensure employee safety and failing to provide adequate supervision.
A judge in Brampton found the provincial agency not guilty of wrongdoing on Friday.
“While we are grateful to the court for the careful manner in which it has evaluated the evidence, we are mindful that this tragic accident claimed the lives of four friends and colleagues,” an Ornge spokesperson told CTV News Toronto in a statement issued on Friday.
Ornge says it has initiated new training programs since the crash and purchased night vision goggles for pilots flying at night.
“Night Vision Goggles are in place at a number of Ornge bases across Ontario, with full implementation across our fleet to be completed by early 2018.”