Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Survivor's call to father left emotional impact

Plane crash victim used satellite phone

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Marco Guénard is still coping with the impact of receiving a phone call from his son from the wreckage of a plane that crashed Sunday morning in northern Manitoba.

Now, he just wants his boy home.

The Quebec man said the frantic call was the most frightening phone conversation of his life -- but one for which he's grateful.

Mikael Guénard, 25, is recovering from a severe back injury. He is at Health Sciences Centre with his mother and girlfriend at his bedside. He could be released from hospital today.

His father said the days since the crash near Snow Lake have been stressful.

"Very tough," said the resident of Val d'Or, Que.

"Emotional, yes."

Mikael called his father, mother and girlfriend by satellite phone from the wreckage of the Cessna 208 Caravan, operated by Gogal Air Services, which crashed into the bush about a kilometre from the Snow Lake airport shortly after takeoff Sunday.

The plane was carrying seven miners from eastern Canadian firm Dumas Mine Contracting from Snow Lake to Winnipeg when it crashed in the bush about 10 a.m.

The passengers suffered multiple injuries but survived. Pilot Mark Gogal, 40, was killed in the crash.

Mikael is one of four survivors still recovering at Health Sciences Centre.All are listed in stable condition.

One man was released from Seven Oaks Hospital earlier this week, while another was released from the hospital in Flin Flon on Wednesday.

Another survivor is still being treated in The Pas and he, too, is in stable condition.

Marco Guénard said his son told him the pilot didn't survive and the others were badly hurt.

"He was very, very afraid," said Marco. "His back was sore and he was in shock."

Mikael was later diagnosed with a fractured vertebra and is spending most of his time in bed, although he is "feeling better and he walks a little bit," his dad said.

Marco said the phone call from his son was short, and it would be four or five hours before he would hear that Mikael was stable.

"There was no news for a long time," he said.

RCMP say a 911 call from a passenger aboard the plane came in just after 10 a.m., and emergency crews were dispatched to the site.

Many residents also raced to the scene of the crash using snowmobiles and ATVs.

RCMP Cpl. Jason Schalla said Monday the terrain where the plane went down is thick with muskeg, rock and dense forest. He said it would have been impossible to get to the crash site without the help of a local contractor who used a bulldozer to cut a path close to the site.

He said the injured were removed from the crash site by volunteers driving ATVs and pulling sleds, taken down the freshly cut road and then transferred to waiting ambulances near the airport.

Peter Hildebrand, regional manager of air investigations with the TSB, said it's too early to pinpoint the cause of the crash.

"We have a lot of work before we get there," said Hildebrand.


-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2012 A9


Updated on Friday, November 23, 2012 at 2:59 PM CST: corrects typo

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