Helicopter vandalism linked to mineral exploration

Law enforcement officials in Nakusp are looking for vandals with an apparent grudge on mining. RCMP officials believe a helicopter parked temporarily at the landing pad at Nakusp Hot Springs was specifically targeted for its work in evaluating mineral resources in the area.

  • Jun. 8, 2011 3:00 p.m.

Law enforcement officials in Nakusp are looking for vandals with an apparent grudge on mining.

RCMP officials believe a helicopter parked temporarily at the landing pad at Nakusp Hot Springs was specifically targeted for its work in evaluating mineral resources in the area.

The incident occurred sometime between April 2 and April 3, said RCMP Constable Tim McDonald.

“Somebody broke into the helicopter and smashed two computer screens inside the helicopter. First aid and emergency survival gear was taken out and put on the ground,” he said.

“It was a targeted vandalism … They wrote in black marker, ‘No gold here,’” he said.

“This helicopter was used to survey for minerals – it looks like the helicopter was targeted by some group – by somebody, based on what the helicopter was doing in the area … Whoever targeted this helicopter knew that,” McDonald said.

The chopper was engaged in mineral survey work in the Trout Lake area.

Fernie-based pilot John Douglas of Highwood Helicopter in Okotoks, Ab. flies all over doing contracted helicopter work. He spoke with the Arrow Lakes News while awaiting a flight to El Paso, Texas.

“They poured a bunch of hydraulic fluid on the windshield and wrote ‘No Gold Here’ on the floor inside the helicopter,” Douglas said.

Emergency equipment was thrown outside of the helicopter, where the vandals scrawled “F*** You” on the ground, Douglas said.

The incident was unusual, he said, adding that by the feedback he gets from the general public, the vandals didn’t speak for everyone.

“Usually people are excited about something that might create jobs,” he said. “There are people who might say something, but I’ve never seen something like this … You run into that all the time for sure .. they tell you what they think, that’s part of the job.”

Douglas described the vandalism as a “high school version.”

“They could have messed with the equipment really bad – there’s all sorts of cables and wires inside a helicopter that are worth millions of dollars, and they weren’t touched. If someone was really serious, they could have grounded us for sure,” he said.

The one thing the vandals did seem to know was that the helicopter was engaged in mineral survey work, judging from the “No Gold Here” scrawled on the floor.

“They have some idea what the equipment is for – otherwise it just looks like a weird spaceship,” he said.

The RCMP is looking for leads in the case. Information can be reported at 250-265-3677.