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

11th annual Magic Cottage kicks off this weekend in Port Alberni

Cottage will be open over two weekends in November

Port Alberni RCMP hold second bike registration event

Project 529 will be at Canadian Tire on Saturday, Nov. 17

Husky Gas Station robbed on Third Avenue

Port Alberni RCMP still searching for suspect

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port Alberni care homes benefit from funding to purchase new safety equipment

Echo Village and Fir Park Village will be receiving $32,500 each

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Most Read