Pilot on Pipeline Patrol Dies in Ashland Co. Helicopter Crash

Updated: October 31, 2018 04:42 AM

ODANAH, Wis. - A Canadian pilot patrolling a northern Wisconsin pipeline died when his helicopter crashed near Lake Superior Monday.

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The Ashland County Sheriff's Office says dispatchers received a report of an overdue Enbridge helicopter on Monday at 8:15 p.m.  The helicopter, which the Federal Aviation Administration identified as a Eurocopter AS350, had been traveling 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, but never returned to the Duluth International Airport, where it was scheduled to make a brief stop before its final destination of Madison, Wisconsin.

"I think it's too close to home. I think it's something that hopefully doesn't happen in our area, and anytime it does is a tragedy to everybody involved," said Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan. 

At approximately 1:37 a.m. Tuesday, the Civil Air Patrol located the potential crash site about seven miles east of Odanah. Ground teams located the site just before 6 a.m., along with the body of the pilot and sole occupant.

Sheriff Brennan identified the victim as 64-year-old Dean M. Bass of Sarnia, Ontario.

"Thoughts went out to their family, hoping that we could find him alive. It's a miracle if it happened, but unfortunately that wasn't the case," said Brennan.

Brennan says the sheriff's office was told by an Enbridge employee that Bass had flown multiple times before, so as of right now, what happened during flight is a mystery.

Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline goes from Superior to Sarnia, which is northeast of Detroit along the Michigan-Ontario border.

The Ashland County Sheriff's Office, Bad River Fire Department, Ashland Fire Department, and Enbridge are conducting and ongoing investigation into the crash.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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