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

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

‘Where the hell are the environmental monitors?’ says Colquitz activist

McKenzie construction continues to pollute Colquitz

Victoria cannabis advocates call proposed trust fund an ‘overreach’

BCICA says North Saanich councillor’s ideas on cannabis ‘cherry picking’

‘Pendulum’ swings Indigenous arts onto the Belfry Theatre stage

From contemporary to traditional, ‘it’s a magic show’ says Indigenous Artist in Residence

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Video: B.C. firefighters featured in quirky video

Oliver Fire Department posts video about their B.C. volunteer firefighter spring training seminar

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals push Canada into second place

A gold in ski cross and a bronze in bobsleigh as men’s hockey advances to the semis

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Canadians capture bronze in women’s bobsled event

Canadians Humphries, George take bronze in women’s bobsled event at Olympics

Most Read