Parents remember fallen son, pilot

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

Closure.

It’s all Bob Woodhead’s parents, Cliff and Kay say they can hope for.

“We don’t think Bob’s alive. There’s no way he could have survived,” said Kay. “We do wish they would find his body, so we could have closure.”

Robert, 53, was operating a Bell 212 helicopter with a line and water bucket and working the Intlpam forest fire last Friday afternoon, when his helicopter went down in the Fraser River, near Lytton, B. C., crashing into 15-metre deep rushing water.

“It is believed that Mr. Woodhead perished in the river, after exiting the crashed helicopter,” said British Columbia RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

Robert was last seen in the water just after the crash by another pilot, who was flying overhead.

“There was a second helicopter operating in the area who witnessed the crash and immediately attempted to assist Mr. Woodhead, when he was seen surfacing,” said Cpl. Moskaluk. “A valiant attempt was made by the second pilot and machine by lowering his line and bucket into the river near Mr. Woodhead; however, it was not successful and the pilot lost visual sight of Mr. Woodhead.”

Cpl. Moskaluk says search crews have recovered Robert’s flight helmet, as well as debris from his helicopter, but have yet to find his body.

“In incidents of this nature, with the incertitude of the person’s fate, it leaves all in a suspended state of deep grief. Our thoughts, along with those of all British Columbians, whose lives and homes were protected in this and in past fire seasons by the courageous efforts of ground firefighters and the pilots assigned to battling these blazes, are with the Woodhead family at this time,” he said.

Cpl. Moskaluk says Robert’s search will continue, but has been modified.

“Given the seasonal work that is currently being conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Fraser River, search efforts to locate Mr. Woodhead will continue with their assistance, in addition to Hope Search and Rescue monitoring areas of the river.” he said.

The RCMP also received assistance during the search from river area outfitters, including Kumsheen Rafting Resort, who know the area and conditions well.

“They, along with the area communities, are aware of the missing status of Mr. Woodhead. With First Nations Bands fishing activity and other recreational use on the river over the next weeks, there are a lot of eyes on the Fraser that will assist in locating Mr. Woodhead.”

Back home, family and friends can only wait helplessly for the final word.

“The closure may never come,” said Cliff. “There’s a possibility they may never find him.”

Though Bob had not been found as of Wednesday, family members find comfort in remembering the Orchard Park Secondary School graduate and doting father of two girls and two boys.

“He loved his job, he loved his family. That was his life,” said Kay.

“He was a top-line pilot,” added Cliff. “He was an easy-going guy, nice in all regards. Everybody liked him.”

Neighbour Tim Cookney says he never met Bob, but assumes he was a great person.

“If he was anything like his mother and father, he was a fantastic person,” he said, adding he’s known Cliff and Kay for more than 30 years. “From what Cliff has said, Robert was always willing to help people out. He was called to do his thing and he went and did it.”

Mr. Cookney, who has been a Station 15 volunteer firefighter for 16 years, says all aspects of firefighting are dangerous.

“A fire can sneak up on you at any time and being a water bomber is particularly dangerous. You have to watch out for updrafts from the heat of the fire and wind when you’re going down to get your load of water,” he said. “I can’t imagine how water bombers do what they do. Robert was one of the chosen ones. It’s a unique profession and you have to be a special kind of person to do something like that.”

Kay says when Bob wasn’t helping fight forest fires, he was in Stoney Creek.

“During the winter months, he lived here, this was his home,” she said, adding his truck is still parked in the driveway. “He was a very quiet guy, when he was home. I looked after his clothes, fed him… I’m going to miss all of that. I’m going to miss everything. Every phone call we get, we keep thinking maybe it’s somebody telling us they’ve found him. For now, all we can do is remember.”

* **

Fast facts on Intlpam forest fire

Discovered: Saturday, July 25

Location: 22 kilometres south of Lillooet, B. C., 150 kilometres northeast of Vancouver

Cause: Lighting

Size: 12.7 square kilometres

Status: Active, 40 per cent contained

Parents remember fallen son, pilot

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

Closure.

It’s all Bob Woodhead’s parents, Cliff and Kay say they can hope for.

“We don’t think Bob’s alive. There’s no way he could have survived,” said Kay. “We do wish they would find his body, so we could have closure.”

Robert, 53, was operating a Bell 212 helicopter with a line and water bucket and working the Intlpam forest fire last Friday afternoon, when his helicopter went down in the Fraser River, near Lytton, B. C., crashing into 15-metre deep rushing water.

“It is believed that Mr. Woodhead perished in the river, after exiting the crashed helicopter,” said British Columbia RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

Robert was last seen in the water just after the crash by another pilot, who was flying overhead.

“There was a second helicopter operating in the area who witnessed the crash and immediately attempted to assist Mr. Woodhead, when he was seen surfacing,” said Cpl. Moskaluk. “A valiant attempt was made by the second pilot and machine by lowering his line and bucket into the river near Mr. Woodhead; however, it was not successful and the pilot lost visual sight of Mr. Woodhead.”

Cpl. Moskaluk says search crews have recovered Robert’s flight helmet, as well as debris from his helicopter, but have yet to find his body.

“In incidents of this nature, with the incertitude of the person’s fate, it leaves all in a suspended state of deep grief. Our thoughts, along with those of all British Columbians, whose lives and homes were protected in this and in past fire seasons by the courageous efforts of ground firefighters and the pilots assigned to battling these blazes, are with the Woodhead family at this time,” he said.

Cpl. Moskaluk says Robert’s search will continue, but has been modified.

“Given the seasonal work that is currently being conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Fraser River, search efforts to locate Mr. Woodhead will continue with their assistance, in addition to Hope Search and Rescue monitoring areas of the river.” he said.

The RCMP also received assistance during the search from river area outfitters, including Kumsheen Rafting Resort, who know the area and conditions well.

“They, along with the area communities, are aware of the missing status of Mr. Woodhead. With First Nations Bands fishing activity and other recreational use on the river over the next weeks, there are a lot of eyes on the Fraser that will assist in locating Mr. Woodhead.”

Back home, family and friends can only wait helplessly for the final word.

“The closure may never come,” said Cliff. “There’s a possibility they may never find him.”

Though Bob had not been found as of Wednesday, family members find comfort in remembering the Orchard Park Secondary School graduate and doting father of two girls and two boys.

“He loved his job, he loved his family. That was his life,” said Kay.

“He was a top-line pilot,” added Cliff. “He was an easy-going guy, nice in all regards. Everybody liked him.”

Neighbour Tim Cookney says he never met Bob, but assumes he was a great person.

“If he was anything like his mother and father, he was a fantastic person,” he said, adding he’s known Cliff and Kay for more than 30 years. “From what Cliff has said, Robert was always willing to help people out. He was called to do his thing and he went and did it.”

Mr. Cookney, who has been a Station 15 volunteer firefighter for 16 years, says all aspects of firefighting are dangerous.

“A fire can sneak up on you at any time and being a water bomber is particularly dangerous. You have to watch out for updrafts from the heat of the fire and wind when you’re going down to get your load of water,” he said. “I can’t imagine how water bombers do what they do. Robert was one of the chosen ones. It’s a unique profession and you have to be a special kind of person to do something like that.”

Kay says when Bob wasn’t helping fight forest fires, he was in Stoney Creek.

“During the winter months, he lived here, this was his home,” she said, adding his truck is still parked in the driveway. “He was a very quiet guy, when he was home. I looked after his clothes, fed him… I’m going to miss all of that. I’m going to miss everything. Every phone call we get, we keep thinking maybe it’s somebody telling us they’ve found him. For now, all we can do is remember.”

* **

Fast facts on Intlpam forest fire

Discovered: Saturday, July 25

Location: 22 kilometres south of Lillooet, B. C., 150 kilometres northeast of Vancouver

Cause: Lighting

Size: 12.7 square kilometres

Status: Active, 40 per cent contained

Parents remember fallen son, pilot

Community Aug 21, 2009 Ancaster News

Closure.

It’s all Bob Woodhead’s parents, Cliff and Kay say they can hope for.

“We don’t think Bob’s alive. There’s no way he could have survived,” said Kay. “We do wish they would find his body, so we could have closure.”

Robert, 53, was operating a Bell 212 helicopter with a line and water bucket and working the Intlpam forest fire last Friday afternoon, when his helicopter went down in the Fraser River, near Lytton, B. C., crashing into 15-metre deep rushing water.

“It is believed that Mr. Woodhead perished in the river, after exiting the crashed helicopter,” said British Columbia RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

Robert was last seen in the water just after the crash by another pilot, who was flying overhead.

“There was a second helicopter operating in the area who witnessed the crash and immediately attempted to assist Mr. Woodhead, when he was seen surfacing,” said Cpl. Moskaluk. “A valiant attempt was made by the second pilot and machine by lowering his line and bucket into the river near Mr. Woodhead; however, it was not successful and the pilot lost visual sight of Mr. Woodhead.”

Cpl. Moskaluk says search crews have recovered Robert’s flight helmet, as well as debris from his helicopter, but have yet to find his body.

“In incidents of this nature, with the incertitude of the person’s fate, it leaves all in a suspended state of deep grief. Our thoughts, along with those of all British Columbians, whose lives and homes were protected in this and in past fire seasons by the courageous efforts of ground firefighters and the pilots assigned to battling these blazes, are with the Woodhead family at this time,” he said.

Cpl. Moskaluk says Robert’s search will continue, but has been modified.

“Given the seasonal work that is currently being conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Fraser River, search efforts to locate Mr. Woodhead will continue with their assistance, in addition to Hope Search and Rescue monitoring areas of the river.” he said.

The RCMP also received assistance during the search from river area outfitters, including Kumsheen Rafting Resort, who know the area and conditions well.

“They, along with the area communities, are aware of the missing status of Mr. Woodhead. With First Nations Bands fishing activity and other recreational use on the river over the next weeks, there are a lot of eyes on the Fraser that will assist in locating Mr. Woodhead.”

Back home, family and friends can only wait helplessly for the final word.

“The closure may never come,” said Cliff. “There’s a possibility they may never find him.”

Though Bob had not been found as of Wednesday, family members find comfort in remembering the Orchard Park Secondary School graduate and doting father of two girls and two boys.

“He loved his job, he loved his family. That was his life,” said Kay.

“He was a top-line pilot,” added Cliff. “He was an easy-going guy, nice in all regards. Everybody liked him.”

Neighbour Tim Cookney says he never met Bob, but assumes he was a great person.

“If he was anything like his mother and father, he was a fantastic person,” he said, adding he’s known Cliff and Kay for more than 30 years. “From what Cliff has said, Robert was always willing to help people out. He was called to do his thing and he went and did it.”

Mr. Cookney, who has been a Station 15 volunteer firefighter for 16 years, says all aspects of firefighting are dangerous.

“A fire can sneak up on you at any time and being a water bomber is particularly dangerous. You have to watch out for updrafts from the heat of the fire and wind when you’re going down to get your load of water,” he said. “I can’t imagine how water bombers do what they do. Robert was one of the chosen ones. It’s a unique profession and you have to be a special kind of person to do something like that.”

Kay says when Bob wasn’t helping fight forest fires, he was in Stoney Creek.

“During the winter months, he lived here, this was his home,” she said, adding his truck is still parked in the driveway. “He was a very quiet guy, when he was home. I looked after his clothes, fed him… I’m going to miss all of that. I’m going to miss everything. Every phone call we get, we keep thinking maybe it’s somebody telling us they’ve found him. For now, all we can do is remember.”

* **

Fast facts on Intlpam forest fire

Discovered: Saturday, July 25

Location: 22 kilometres south of Lillooet, B. C., 150 kilometres northeast of Vancouver

Cause: Lighting

Size: 12.7 square kilometres

Status: Active, 40 per cent contained