ASHLAND COUNTY — On October 29th, 2018 at approximately 8:15 P.M., the Ashland County Communications Center received a report of an overdue Enbridge helicopter that had been travelling westward from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The helicopter had been seen flying over the Birch Hill area of the Bad River Tribal Reservation early in the afternoon of the 29th but never arrived at Duluth International Airport, where it was to make a brief stop, or to Madison, which was its planned destination and due to arrive around 5:45 P.M.
Searches of local airports, within Ashland County as well as locations between Gogebic County Michigan and Douglas County Wisconsin, did not turn up the missing craft, nor did initial searches from the ground near the reported flight path.
Search efforts within Ashland County, coordinated between the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, the Wisconsin Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Coast Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Enbridge Inc., and Lake Superior Helicopters LLC, continued into the morning of October 30th.
At approximately 1:37 A.M., the Civil Air Patrol reported that a Lake Superior Helicopters’ craft, searching from the air, had located a potential crash site for the missing helicopter in a remote portion of the reservation. Ashland County Deputies along with the Bad River Fire Department, and the Ashland Fire Department were dispatched to that area and responded with members of the Enbridge search team.
Ground teams located the crash site just before 6:00 A.M. along with the body of the pilot, an Ontario man, believed to be the sole occupant of the crashed helicopter. Recovery efforts by the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Bad River Fire Department, Ashland Fire Department and the Enbridge team are ongoing. The name of the pilot is not being released at this time pending the confirmation of notification to family members.
The Pilot has been identified as Dean M. Bass age 64, from Sarina, Ontario Canada.
No information is available at this time regarding the cause or nature of the incident. Further investigation will be conducted by the Ashland County Coroner’s Office, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.