By J. Chess
In a heart-wrenching incident that unfolded last week, a helicopter crash north of Terrace, British Columbia, Canada, resulted in the tragic loss of four lives. Two of the deceased have been identified as Mark McGowan, a highly respected helicopter pilot, and Lewis Ainsworth, a distinguished skiing guide.
Mark McGowan and Lewis Ainsworth: Remembering the Lives Lost
McGowan and Ainsworth were integral members of the Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and Skyline Helicopters teams. Their unexpected departure has deeply affected their colleagues and the broader industry.
Mark McGowan was a phenomenal pilot who had devoted significant time and energy to mastering his craft. His loss has left his team at Skyline Helicopters devastated. Gareth Shanks, a colleague at Skyline, described him as an invaluable part of their team.
Lewis Ainsworth hailed from New Zealand and was a well-regarded presence in the mountaineering community. He was in his second year as a guide with Northern Escape, where he was recognised as a rising star. Ainsworth was also serving as the president of the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association at the time of his death.
A Tribute to the Deceased
Marney Ainsworth, Lewis’s mother, took to Facebook to express her grief and commemorate her son’s life. She expressed immense pride in her son’s achievements and was moved by the respect he commanded amongst his peers.
John Forrest, the president of Northern Escape, described the grief experienced by their team as profound. He spoke highly of Ainsworth’s character, describing him as friendly, passionate, and immensely talented. A similar sentiment was echoed for McGowan, who had been Forrest’s colleague for over a decade.
The Aftermath of the Crash
The crash bore a heavy toll. Besides the immediate loss of three lives, four individuals were rushed to the hospital with injuries. Ainsworth, unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries later. The other passengers are reported to be in a stable condition.
The crash’s repercussions extended beyond human lives. The incident has cast a shadow over the heli-skiing industry, with Forrest describing it as a ‘massive loss’.
The bodies of the deceased have since been recovered from the site, and investigations by the BC Coroners Service, the Transportation Safety Board, and WorkSafeBC are ongoing.
Remembering Lewis Ainsworth
Ainsworth’s contribution to mountaineering was acknowledged internationally. His death at the age of 35 has left a void in the industry and the hearts of those who knew him. He is survived by his partner and their 10-year-old daughter. His passion for the mountains will be remembered by all who had the privilege to know him.
This article first appeared on The Canadian Press on January 29, 2024..