The crash of a West Wind Aviation ATR 42 in northern Saskatchewan on Dec. 13 tragically became Canada’s only fatal airline accident of 2017. A seriously injured passenger, 19-year-old Arson Fern Jr. died Christmas Day. Fern, who had cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair, was trapped in the wreckage for three hours. He had two broken legs, a broken pelvis, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding and died in a Saskatoon hospital of his injuries. “We never gave up on him until the day he passed away,” his mother Janey Fern told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Fern and her husband Arson Fern Sr. were also onboard the aircraft, which went down just after takeoff from Fond du Lac Airport bound for Stony Rapids. There were 22 passengers and three crew on the aircraft.
West Wind Aviation said its staff was “overwhelmed with sadness of this news.” The company hasn’t flown since the accident. It voluntarily suspended operations at first and then Transport Canada suspended its operator certificate for unspecified safety concerns. Passengers reported the aircraft rocked back and forth before hitting the ground and smashing through brush for 250 metres. Anson Fern Sr. was one of the leaders of a group of relatively uninjured passengers worked for 30 minutes to open a rear emergency exit.