Singer Bob Bissonnette pilot killed in helicopter crash

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Quebec hockey player-turned-singer Roberto (Bob) Bissonnette was killed in a helicopter crash near Campbellton, N.B., on Sunday.

His death was confirmed by the Québec Capitals baseball team, of which Bissonnette was a shareholder.

The pilot, Frederick Décoste, was also killed. Team president Michel Laplante was injured and is expected to survive.

“The entire Capitals organization offers its sympathies to the families and relatives of the victims,” the team said in a French-language statement.

Before his musical career, Bissonnette played for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Bell 206 helicopter collided with some power lines at about 4 p.m. Sunday, then crashed into a land embankment and ultimately into the Restigouche River.

“This would be out along Route 11 in New Brunswick, just shy of the Quebec border,” Cpl. Dan Smith said.

‘There was pieces everywhere’

Patti Gallie told CBC News she saw the whole thing from her home in Flatlands just outside Campbellton. The crash happened about 150 metres from her house.

“Normally we hear helicopters all the time, because they fly up and down the river … but today it was a noise that was something I hadn’t heard before,” she said.

“I went outside to see what it was and as I went outside, I looked downriver, and at that point the helicopter hit right into the power lines and there was a huge explosion and it fell right to the river and there was pieces everywhere.”

The power went out instantly.

“I literally panicked. I was in shock. I tried to find my husband and I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’ve got to do something. I’m sure there’s people there,'” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. …  It was awful.”

She said first-responders were on the scene within minutes.

TSB investigating

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced it would deploy a team of investigators to the scene on Monday. Two of the investigators are coming in from Dartmouth, N.S.

“They’ll need to do a little bit of work, assess the accident, take photographs,” TSB spokeswoman Julie Leroux said.

Smith said RCMP will hold the scene until board investigators arrive.

When asked whether the helicopter went down due to striking transmission lines, Smith said the sequence of the events are still unclear.

“We do know that it hit the lines and the terrain before winding up in the water,” Smith said.

Smith said RCMP did not go into the water at any point. He said local first responders performed the rescues.

Meghan Gerrish, a spokeswoman for NB Power, said the crash affected two transmission lines that run between Quebec and Eel River.

At the height of the power outages, Gerrish said there were about 14,000 customers without electricity.

By 9:06 p.m. AT, there were still 2,540 customers dealing with outages.

“Specialized transmission crews are on site,” Gerrish said.

“We don’t foresee the rest of our customers being out of power for a great amount of time with this accident. We expect most, if not all, will be back online sometime tonight.”

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