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Pilot David Wood died after falling into a crevasse on a remote ice shelf.

Canadian helicopter pilot dies in Antarctica


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 9:45 AM - A Canadian helicopter pilot working in Australia has died after falling into a crevasse on a remote ice shelf.

David Wood, 62, was a contractor for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), operating out of Australia's Davis Research Station.

On Monday night, Wood's helicopter was one of two that were slinging fuel to a depot around 166 km northeast of the base. After landing at a site on the ice shelf to retrieve the sling equipment, Wood fell into a crevasse, according to a release from the AAD.

The second pilot wasn't able to rescue him on his own, and flew 45 minutes back to Davis Station for help. Rescuers arrived three hours after Wood fell, and extracted him from a depth of around 20 m.

David Wood. Photo by James Moloney, courtesy Australian Antarctic Division

David Wood. Photo by James Moloney, courtesy Australian Antarctic Division

He was flown back to the base for care in critical condition, and did not survive.

AAD director Nick Gales said Wood was a "respected colleague and friend to many in the Australian Antarctic program." The AAD says it is working to return Wood's body to Australia.

Antarctica's remote location makes urgent medical care difficult to obtain for researchers and contractors. Most applicants to positions on the continent have to undergo extensive medical examinations, and if they are badly injured or fall seriously ill, it can be a major ordeal to evacuate them to Australia or New Zealand for treatment.

ABC reports the AAD was attempting to make arrangements to fly Wood to Australia for treatment on Wednesday, depending on the weather.

SOURCES: Australian Antarctic Division | ABC News

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