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Details of pilot’s death released

May 26, 2011 – The identity of the pilot who died in a helicopter crash while battling blazes in Canyon Creek, Alta., on May 20 has been released.

May 26, 2011
By Stefanie Croley

May 26, 2011 – The identity of the pilot who died in a helicopter crash while battling blazes in Canyon Creek, Alta., on May 20 has been released.

Jean-Luc Deba, 54, is listed as a Quebec resident who was employed by Campbell Helicopters for the upcoming fire season. The helicopter was engaged in battling the blazes in Canyon Creek, 24 kilometres west of Slave Lake, Alta., and went down in shallow water at Lesser Slave Lake.

"Although a recent addition to our team, Jean-Luc was a valued member that we were looking forward to a long relationship with," says Laura Siemens, operations manager at Campbell Helicopters. "He was an extremely experienced and intelligent man who had much to contribute to the company, both professionally and personally. We are all heartbroken with this loss."

The Abbotsford office of Campbell Helicopters was notified of the accident just before 3 p.m. PST on May 20. Following normal protocol, aerial firefighting for all commercial companies stopped in the Slave Lake area after the accident; work resumed on May 21.

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"This is a tragic time for our company, our employees and their families," says Bruce Campbell, founding president of Campbell Helicopters. "Our hearts go out to Mr. Deba's family and friends and all the firefighters and rescuers who were involved in the rescue efforts in this tragic accident."

The accident remains under investigation by the TSB. It is estimated the full investigation will take one year to complete. Campbell Helicopters has co-operated with the TSB and will continue to do so until the investigation is concluded.