The wreckage of an aircraft is seen near Fond du Lac, Sask. on Thursday, December 14, 2017 in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Transportation Safety Board of Canada Handout

Plane ‘too heavy:’ Plane crash victims file class-action lawsuit

Passengers in the Fond du Lac crash in northern Saskatchewan file class-action lawsuit

Survivors of a plane crash in a remote community in northern Saskatchewan have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the airline was negligent.

The claim against West Wind Aviation and Athabasca Basin Development, the airline’s majority shareholder, alleges that their acts or omissions harmed those on the plane.

The plaintiffs include six passengers who were on board the flight when it went down near the Fond du Lac airstrip shortly after taking off on Dec. 13.

Everyone on board escaped the wreckage, but seven people were seriously injured. One 19-year old man, Arson Fern Jr., later died in hospital from his injuries.

“We believe we can establish negligence,” said Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of his clients.

Fern and his parents, Arson Fern Sr. and Janey Fern, are among the six plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The others are Tiffany Hanson of Stoney Rapids and Fond du Lac residents Carey Clayton Mercredi and Dakota McDonald.

The claim alleges the companies breached the standard of care by using a runway that was too short for the size and weight of the plane and by not having proper de-icing equipment. It also alleges the employees overloaded the plane with passengers and freight and failed to alert emergency officials quickly after the crash.

It suggests the passengers have suffered harm, including pain, increased medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

West Wind Aviation has not yet responded to the claim. The airline did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Merchant said one of his clients overheard a member of the flight staff say that the plane was “too heavy” before it departed. He said the airport has a short runway and doesn’t have de-icing equipment, which makes taking off in winter conditions more difficult.

“Fundamentally, there’s an issue with West Wind operating such a heavy airplane in that circumstance, going into Fond du Lac,” said Merchant.

He also said West Wind employees also didn’t give passengers warning of the crash and didn’t help once they were on the ground.

“They were working together in circumstances of fright and horror, darkness, the fear of an explosion. Some people were injured,” said Merchant. ”It all together is right out of an awful movie.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Officials with the Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the crash. They have already said there was no engine failure, but haven’t said when a final report will be complete.

Merchant said his clients could wait for the report, but he believes that negligence can be established without it.

“I can’t imagine that they are going to come back and say everything is fine,” he said. “To say everything was fine is saying these planes are going to fall out of the sky once in a while — and that’s not the case — so they are going to identify something wrong.”

West Wind Aviation grounded its other twin-engine ATR42-320 planes after the Fond du Lac crash.

— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fries, gravy, cheese and goodwill: Victoria hosts Poutine Week

Buy one of the varying versions of this traditional dish and help feed hungry kids

Saanich homeless camp to voluntarily leave provincial land by Tuesday

‘If the province really wants to pick a fight with us, we may end up in John Horgan’s backyard,’ says camp leader Chrissy Brett

Victoria lawyer urges B.C. law society to make pro bono work mandatory

Resolution says justice system is “at a crisis level” in B.C.

Surge in requests for help, reports of sexual assault since #MeToo

Growing demand for Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic’s services in first year of #MeToo

Pumpkin patch proposal takes engagement to new heights

Flyover of ‘Will you marry me’ written in pumpkins

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Black Press to host extreme career fair in Victoria

The fair will run on Oct. 25 at the Bay Street Armoury

POLL: Will legalization change your habits towards marijuana?

Marijuana is set to become legal across Canada on Oct. 17. Is… Continue reading

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

B.C. brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The brew aims to raise food waste awareness and provide funds for the food bank

Dad files Charter challenge after B.C. bans kids from taking transit unsupervised

Adrian Crook is taking his fight to B.C. Supreme Court

Most Read