RCMP suspending search, military withdraws from Labrador floatplane crash site

The RCMP has suspended search efforts for a floatplane and three missing men following its crash into a Labrador lake almost a month ago, shortly after the Canadian military announced it was ending its role in the operation. 

Police have been leading the search for the victims as well as the downed de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Mistastin Lake, about 100 kilometres southwest of Nain.

“Unfortunately, neither the plane’s fuselage nor any of the missing occupants were located. We are now assessing the activities undertaken and determining any next steps,” said Cpl. Jolene Garland, an RCMP spokesperson, in an email.

When pressed if the RCMP was withdrawing its resources from the crash site, Garland said the search “has not been officially called off or completed at this point.”

One of the crash victims was Dwayne Winsor, originally from Triton but living in Deer Lake. (Dwayne C Winsor/Facebook)

Seven men, including the pilot, were aboard the plane owned by airline Air Saguenay that crashed July 15. The bodies of fishing guide Dwayne Winsor of Deer Lake, N.L., guest John Weaver II of Chicago and James Slamon of New Jersey have been recovered so far.

The body of another 50-year-old fishing guide from N.L. has also been recovered, but his identity has not been released.

Three others —  pilot Gilles Morrin from Quebec, and Weaver’s sons, Matthew and John, from the United States — are still missing.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

James Slamon, who retired as the chief financial officer of United States Cold Storage in 2014, was also killed in the crash. (United States Cold Storage)


Canadian military ends its role in search

Maj. Mark Gough of Maritime Forces Atlantic said military divers sent to Mistastin Lake to assist the RCMP began their work on July 31.

He said they concluded their work on Aug. 6 and left the site on Aug. 9.

“We appreciate the support provided by the military,” Garland told CBC News. 

Three members of the Weaver family were in the crash. The body of father John Weaver II, far left, was recovered. Sons Matt, second from left, and John, far right, are still missing. (Weaver family/The Canadian Press)

Six members of the Forces’ fleet diving unit from Halifax were at Mistastin Lake with remotely operated vehicles and side scan sonar technology to probe the extremely deep lake.

Gough said the scale of the lake, the rough terrain and the unco-operative weather posed challenges.

“It’s a big and deep lake,” Gough said. “They had to cover a very extensive area at very significant depths for a lake …. It’s a challenging area to work in.”

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