Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Announce Third Search and Rescue Chopper for Labrador after Boy's Death: New Search and Rescue Chopper for Labrador

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Announce Third Search and Rescue Chopper for Labrador after Boy's Death: New Search and Rescue Chopper for Labrador

Article excerpt

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - After the death of a 14-year-old Labrador boy raised concerns about search and rescue services, the military announced Wednesday that it's adding a third Griffon helicopter to the fleet at 5 Wing Goose Bay.

Two Griffon choppers were both briefly out of commission for maintenance or repairs when the military was first asked to help in the search for Burton Winters on Jan. 30, the morning after he went missing while snowmobiling outside Makkovik.

The military said bad weather was also a factor and that a Cormorant helicopter wasn't dispatched because it might have been needed for a marine rescue.

A Griffon and an Aurora plane arrived to help on Jan. 31 after local searchers made a second call to the military for help. But the lost boy's body was found on the frozen Labrador Sea the next day, about a 19-kilometre walk over jagged ice from his abandoned snowmobile.

In a news release, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the extra Griffon will "have an immediate positive impact on the operational readiness of the base and provide flexibility to decision-makers on the use of Canadian Forces assets in the region."

Members of the deceased boy's family have publicly said it was a blow while they were already grieving to hear that the military didn't send a primary-asset Cormorant to search for Burton because it might have been needed at sea.

Randy Edmunds, a family friend and provincial Liberal politician who was aboard the civilian chopper that found the boy's body, said another Griffon is a step in the right direction, although it's a second-string rescue chopper.

He and others want a public inquiry into the handling of the search for Burton. Both MacKay and Premier Kathy Dunderdale have deflected those calls.

"The system failed in the case of young Burton," Edmunds said in an interview. "That was made very, very clear.

"If you want to fix something, you first have to find out what went wrong with it. …

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