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Vancouver Island helicopter pilot mourned after fatal crash

Brent Fedirchuk, from Port Alberni, died April 6 in a helicopter crash north of Sayward
Brent Fedirchuk, right, receives the 2016 Wayne Demoskoff Volunteer of the Year award from sponsor Peter Mugleston of the Best Western Barclay Plus Hotel at the Funtastic Alberni/ Okee Dokee Slopitch tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY FUNTASTIC ALBERNI)

Friends and colleagues are remembering helicopter pilot Brent Fedirchuk as a safe pilot and a great friend. Fedirchuk, from Port Alberni, died April 6 in a helicopter crash north of Sayward while working a logging site for Kestrel Helicopters.

“It’s been hard,” said Randy Haberland, who once worked with Fedirchuk flying commercial helicopters.

“When you go to work you never expect a call like that…from a guy doing this for 25 years.”

READ: Pilot dies in helicopter crash on northern Vancouver Island

Fedirchuk had left Kestrel Helicopters’ base in Parksville the same morning and hadn’t been working very long at the site when the crash happened, according to reports.

The Joint Rescue Command Centre in Victoria received a mayday call at approximately 9 a.m. on April 6. The Transportation Safety Board, which investigates air, marine, pipeline and rail incidents, sent two investigators to the scene of the crash near Sayward.

Fedirchuk was working with Kestrel Helicopters in the Naka Creek area north of Sayward when the incident occurred.

Fedirchuk was a safe pilot, said former colleague Haberland. “I knew him for 22 years that I flew with him. He was the best guy I ever worked with from the air to the ground.”

Haberland was supposed to be block logging in the same place as Fedirchuk but truck trouble prevented him from working that morning.

The news hit hard for Paul Robertson, who has known Fedirchuk for decades. The pair worked together in the logging industry and also volunteered with Funtastic Alberni’s annual slo-pitch tournament. ”He was my best buddy,” Robertson said.

The pair met in 1992 when Robertson’s company hired Kestrel to fly their shape box. “He was such a professional at his job: safe, always on on time. There was no better pilot. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people he worked for.”

Fedirchuk began volunteering with Funtastic Alberni in 2016 and threw himself into the task. He earned Volunteer of the Year that year, and later joined the board.

Fedirchuk had turned 50 during a family trip to Mexico a few days before the accident.

“Always upbeat, happy,” said Robertson. “That was Brent.”

With a file from Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Brent Fedirchuk, who recently turned 50, has been identified as the pilot who died in a work-related accident near Sayward on northern Vancouver Island. (PHOTO COURTESY FUNTASTIC ALBERNI)