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

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Susan Simmons begins a 24-hour swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

The MS Athlete and ultra-marathon swimmer wants to be the first person to make the journey

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

PHOTOS: Tour de Victoria takes off

1,800 cyclists took off in the Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria for a city-wide loop

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

RCMP looking for missing Duncan teen

Dallas Macleod, 18, was last seen on Aug. 10

Evacuation order issued in Island village due to “risk of falling debris”

Fire continues to threaten town’s only access road

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

Most Read