Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II, C-GDWA: Fatal accident occurred March 17, 2015 in French River Provincial Park, Canada

Vilma Gumpal

Ontario Provincial Police have identified the third victim of a March 17 airplane crash as Vilma Gumpal, 42, of Sudbury. 

Gumpal died after a Piper aircraft being flown by Sudbury lawyer Leo Arseneau crashed in rugged terrain in French River Provincial Park, near the mouth of the French and Pickerel rivers.

Arseneau, 64, and his wife Mary Lou, 65, also died in the accident. Their names were released last week and a funeral service was held for the couple this morning (Thursday) at Glad Tidings Church.

The OPP didn't release Gumpal's name until after what they are calling an additional post-mortem.

Sources say Gumpal was a caretaker to Mary Lou Arseneau, who was in a wheelchair because of a debiliating disease.

The three were on their way to Florida, via North Carolina, when Arseneau reported the plane was in distress about an hour after they left Sudbury.

The Piper aircraft that crashed south of Sudbury and killed three people March 17 broke apart in mid-air, says the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The six-seater plane, which was manufactured in 1979 and imported to Canada in 2006, was about 70 kilometres south of Sudbury when the pilot, Leo Arseneau, 64, called air traffic control to say he had to turn the plane back to land in Sudbury.

Air traffic control gave him the go-ahead, and cleared for him to descend to 5,000 feet.

When they asked if there was anything else they could do to help, they never heard a response, said Don Enns, regional manager of the Transportation Safety Board's Toronto office.

“On radar, the airplane appears to suddenly start to descend extremely rapidly,” Enns said.

Investigators do not yet know what forced Arseneau to change his course, and eventually tore the plane apart.

They do know the plane broke apart while still in the air, though, because the debris was spread out at three separate crash sites.

The majority of the wreckage – which included the fuselage and tail of the aircraft, was discovered in a wooded area near the mouth of the French and Pickerel rivers.

Investigators discovered the majority of the left wing about half a kilometre to the northeast of the main crash site, and found parts of the right wing nearly two kilometres to the southeast. 

“The first thing we need to do is get the aircraft wreckage out of the bush and into our facility here in Toronto,” Enns said.

It will be up to the insurance company to retrieve the wreckage, and due to the difficulties accessing the crash sites Enns could not say when that would happen.

They would likely need a helicopter to gather all the pieces of the aircraft, he said, and would then need to transport those pieces to Toronto.

Once the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reconstructs the aircraft, investigators will be better able to determine what failed first.

“Hopefully we can put together enough information that we can figure out the scenario of what happened,” Enns said.

In addition to Arseneau, who was a well-known lawyer from Sudbury, his wife Mary Lou, 65, and her caregiver, who has not yet been identified, were killed in the crash.

An effort to recover three bodies from the wreckage of a small Sudbury plane continued Thursday in the bush west of Henvey Inlet.

"We're taking the bodies out today," said Const. Miles Loach, community service officer with the West Parry Sound OPP. "We found the plane and the three people who were supposedly in it, but we are still trying to verify the identities."

Names would not be released by the OPP until post-mortems were carried out in Sudbury, he said.

A team of investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada was also on site, beginning Wednesday.

"Transport Canada and our investigator were the first two in there yesterday," said Loach.

Investigators are visiting the site by helicopter, he noted, as it is in rugged terrain near the mouth of the Pickerel River.

"The OPP chopper is there now," Loach said. "Initially we were using the Coast Guard's, because you can't even get to it by snowmobile."

The plane, a six-seat Piper Saratoga owned by Sudbury lawyer Leo Arseneau, departed from the city's airport around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, bound for Winston-Salem, NC, but reported engine difficulties less than an hour after takeoff.

Arseneau's wife, Mary Lou, and a caregiver are believed to have also been on board.

Derek Young, who filled in occasionally as legal secretary at Arseneau's law office, described a shaken workplace on Thursday.

"The team at Arseneau Poulson and their associates are grieving," he wrote in a Facebook post. "Leo was a friend, a colleague and a family man, with a gentle and kind spirit."

Young said the lawyer and his wife were extremely close. "He was just shy of his 65th birthday and he and his wife of 48 years planned on renewing their vows this spring."

Arseneau was also a magician who "enjoyed performing card tricks," noted Young, and performed an altruistic role by "flying disadvantaged families to hospital appointments. This is a big loss to the community."

A mayday was received by the OPP just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, after which the plane lost radio contact.

"When we first got the call, the location we were given was just out from Sans Souci Island (near Parry Sound)," said Loach. "I gather they turned around and were trying to make their way back to Sudbury."

All planes are required to have an emergency locator device, but in this case there was no signal coming from the Piper's transponder unit.

"I understand there was some fire when it landed," said Loach. "Whether it wasn't working or was burnt, we're not sure."

In the absence of exact coordinates, spotters with the OPP and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Trenton had to scour a broad area Tuesday evening and overnight, using a Hercules plane and helicopter to conduct grid searches.

By 8:55 a.m. Wednesday morning, JRCC personnel were able to pinpoint the wreckage and a member of the OPP's emergency response team was delivered to the site via a Coast Guard helicopter.

"They found a spot on the ice (of the Pickerel River) close to that where they could land, and our officer walked over to it from there," said Loach. (Earlier reports mistakenly said the ERT officer had to rappel down.)

Loach said the plane was found "in two pieces, but very close together," suggesting the aircraft may have broken apart upon landing.

Chris Krepski, a spokesman with the Transportation Safety Board, said no determination had yet been made on the cause of the plane crash.

"Our investigators arrived yesterday and will spend as much time as they need to," he said. "Usually they will spend a day or so on site, depending on how easy it is to access. They may also interview people in the area and look at pilot training records and aircraft maintenance history."

Krepski said he wasn't able to communicate Thursday with the team dispatched to the crash site, as they were out of cellphone range.

"I've been unsuccessful in reaching them, which is often the case in isolated areas," he said. "They're there, but there's been no information since they were deployed."

Leo Arseneau

The death of a Sudbury pilot and two passengers hit hard among local aviation and legal circles Wednesday.

Leo Arseneau, an accomplished family lawyer and member of the Sudbury Flying Club, perished along with his wife, Mary Lou, and his wife's caregiver after his Piper six-seater plane went down in the bush near the mouth of the French and Pickerel Rivers on Tuesday.

The three were bound for Winston-Salem, NC, but reported engine problems after leaving the Sudbury Airport and crashed while attempting to execute an emergency landing.

News of the tragedy was showing on the faces of many lawyers at the Sudbury Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

"He and I go back a ways, quite a ways," reflected Robert Beckett, a long-time Sudbury lawyer. "He just reached 35 years (in law) at the end of last year. He was one of my golf buddies."

Another veteran solicitor, Richard Pharand, described Arseneau as a doting husband and skilled attorney.

"In recent years, he was his wife's caregiver," said Pharand. "He was basically taking care of her. He would go to the office and do work and spend all his other time with his wife. He told me he had been at the hospital when she was there and spent a lot of time at her bedside."

Arseneau was involved in a number of noteworthy cases, said Pharand, including a civil suit against disgraced financial adviser Pierre Montpellier, who was convicted of conning 128 people out of $5.3 million in 2004.

"He acted on behalf of the victims and got them a good result," he said.

The suit, filed in 1999, sought $25 million in damages. In 2004, Arseneau obtained $4.6 million on behalf of more than 70 Sudburians who said they were cheated out of investments.

Arseneau also represented the parents of Davinder Kochar, killed in 2005, in their quest to have retroactive child support paid by their daughter's husband, Harinder Kochar, for the couple's three children.

A court ruled in 2011 that $200,000 was owed to the elder Kochars on behalf of their grandchildren.

As lawyers grieved a popular colleague and mentor, those who frequent local hangars and runways were also feeling the loss.

Michael Rocha, chief flight instructor with the Central North Flying Club, said he was more of an acquaintance than a close friend but would often encounter Arseneau at the airport, especially in the days when the Sudbury Flying Club -- of which Arseneau was a member -- was more active.

"The airplane community is a small one, so you get to know each other," he said.

Arseneau was a seasoned pilot, said Rocha, and used his plane mostly for long trips, as opposed to shorter leisure outings.

"The first time I met Leo was back around 1998, so he's probably been flying for over 20 years," he said.

The Piper Saratoga flown by Arseneau was a "higher performance" type of single-engine plane that is "designed more for long trips than sightseeing," said Rocha.

Anytime a plane goes down it sends a chill through the flying community, said Rocha, especially if someone is killed.

"You feel bad for everybody involved, and it gives you a bit of a pause for thought and reflection," he said.

Aviators are "are a very safety-oriented group of people, very conscious of safety," said the flight instructor. "And flying is one of the safest modes of transportation -- I've always said it's more dangerous driving to the airport than flying. But accidents still happen, and it's very unfortunate."

July 13, 2012: Piper PA-32RT-300T, C-GDWA, Forced landing on highway

Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport after being forced to make an emergency landing on westbound Highway 402 Friday night. The right wing tip sustained damage after being clipped by an oncoming Dodge Caravan on the highway. The female driver of the van, her four passengers, Arseneau and his four passengers were all unharmed. Arseneau and his family was enroute from Sudbury, according to OPP. 

 Submitted photo of the Piper Lance small engine aircraft after it landed just after 10 p.m. Friday night. 

The foreground shows a broken piece from the tip of pilot Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft, which sustained damage after being clipped by an oncoming Dodge Caravan Friday night on westbound Highway 402. The carrier is currently parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport. Pieces from the tip lie underneath the aircraft. According to the Huron Flight Centre, the small plane will be moved to the airside of the airport after an insurance company examines the carrier on Monday. 

 A close up of Joseph Arseneau's Piper Lance small engine aircraft, parked in a parking lot at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, shows damage sustained to the right wing tip. Pieces from the tip lie underneath the aircraft. According to the Huron Flight Centre, the small plane will be moved to the airside of the airport after an insurance company examines the carrier on Monday. 

A small airplane was forced to make an emergency landing on Highway 402 Friday night.

Joseph Arseneau, a 62-year-old pilot, was travelling with four family members enroute to Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport from Sudbury in a Piper Lance small engine aircraft around 9 p.m. Friday, said Const. John Reurink of the OPP.

Reurink said Arseneau experienced an onboard electrical failure that left him circling the area to locate the airport.

“He was without electrical power for about an hour,” said Reurink.

“He’s not aware of this area, being from Sudbury.”

After losing navigation directions and contact with Toronto Air Traffic Control, Arseneau contacted Sarnia Police around 9:50 p.m.

“He made a call to our switchboard from a private cell phone because his power supply was interrupted and his radio and navigation system was down,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Oram of Sarnia Police.

Arseneau, running low on fuel, made an emergency landing on westbound 402 between Oil Heritage Road and Mandaumin Road exits with the assistance of Sarnia Police and Lambton OPP.

“The original plan was to get (Arseneau) to the airport, but he notified us that he was running out of fuel,” said Oram.

After Arseneau’s aircraft landed successfully on the highway, west of Plowing Match Road, a Dodge Caravan clipped the ring wing of the carrier.

Reurink said the female driver of the van, 40-year-old Elizabeth Goodall of Sarnia, and four other passengers, were uninjured, while the driver side of the van sustained some damage.

“Thank goodness that nobody was hurt. That’s 10 lives... I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Judy Ryan of Huron Flight Centre in Sarnia.

“The plane could have gone up on flames. There could have been 10 fatalities.”
She added that Arseneau would have been disadvantaged and “flying blind” without electrical power.

“The weigh scales on the 402 were probably the only things he could see,” said Ryan.

Transport Canada is investigating the source of the onboard electrical failure, according to Reurink.

Oram said he has never heard of an emergency landing on the highway during his 29-year career with Sarnia Police.

Arseneau’s Piper Lance small engine aircraft sustained minimal damage to the tip of the right wing and is currently parked at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport.
“The highway is open to ground traffic now, but closed to air traffic,” joked Oram.

Source:   http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca

 The 402 could sometimes use someone to direct traffic, but last night the busy highway needed an air traffic controller. 

Lambton OPP say a plane made an emergency landing on the highway near Wyoming, just east of Sarnia.

Officers say it was around 9 p.m. when 62-year-old pilot Joseph Arseneau of Sudbury was flying with four of his family members in his Piper Lance small engine plane to Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport when the aircraft went into on-board electrical failure.

Police say without his instruments to help him, Arseneau circled continuously to find the airport, but without his signalling the runway lights wouldn't come on.

The OPP says it was around 10 p.m. that Arseneau was running low on fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing in the westbound lanes of the 402 between Oil Heritage Road and Mandaumin Road Exits.

Officers say Arseneau brought the plane down successfully, but even though they were on the ground the drama wasn't over yet.

Police say once the aircraft was on the roadway a passing van clipped the right wing tip. Police say the 40-year-old driver of the van, Elizabeth Goodall of Sarnia and her four passengers were not hurt. Arseneau and his family were also uninjured by the collision.

Officers say the van and the wing tip of the plane did sustain some damage.

OPP say the westbound lanes of the 402 were closed until the plane and the vehicle could be removed.

A picture from the scene shows the small plane sitting on the highway bathed in the glow of emergency vehicles' lights.

Transport Canada has now begun an investigation into what may have caused the on-board electrical failure in the aircraft.

Source:   http://www.am980.ca
The steady hands of a Sudbury pilot faced with an on-board electrical failure landed his small airplane on Hwy 402 just outside of Sarnia on Friday night without any injuries. 

Lambton OPP said Joseph Arseneau, 62, of Sudbury was flying his Piper Lance aircraft with four family members to Chris Hadfield Airport in Sarnia when at about 9 p.m. the electrical failure happened.

He circled the plane for an hour looking for the airport, but without his on-board instruments, he couldn't signal the airport to light up the runway.

For an hour, he continued circling the plane. At 10 p.m., now low on fuel, he had to make an emergency landing – and did in the westbound lanes of Hwy. 402 between Oil Heritage Rd.and Maudamin Rd.

While making the landing, his right wing clipped a van. The 40-year old female driver and her four passengers were not injured.

Both the plane and the van were damaged in the collision.

Transport Canada is investigating.  

Source:   http://www.lfpress.com 

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