Helicopter pilot killed in Nunavut crash was adventurous, lovable, remembers partner

From CBC News – link to source story

‘He was the most wonderful human I’ve met in my whole life’

Liny Lamberink · CBC News · May 01, 2021

Steven Page, 36, was one of three men who died after a helicopter belonging to Great Slave Helicopters went down outside of Resolute Bay, Nunavut. (Submitted by Sandra Soares)

A 36-year-old helicopter pilot, killed in last week’s crash in Nunavut, is being remembered as the kind of guy everyone would fall in love with. 

Steven Page was one of three men who died last Sunday, when the AS350-B3 aircraft they were travelling in crashed 22 kilometres southwest of Resolute Bay.

His partner, Sandra Soares, told CBC News she got the first phone call from Yellowknife-based Great Slave Helicopters that evening — alerting her that something had gone wrong.

“His boss, John, called me around 7:30 on Sunday and said Steve missed his check-in and they weren’t sure what was going on,” she said. “[I was] stirring and pacing and feeling pretty sick, but in the back of mind thinking, ‘Well, Steve’s always OK.'” 

Less than five hours later, she would find out that he wasn’t.

Sandra Soares, right, snapped this photo with Page on their first date together, when they bushwhacked up Grey Mountain outside of Whitehorse in search of a cave. (Submitted by Sandra Soares)

“I got the call around midnight that they found the crash site and there were no survivors.” 

Not only did Soares have to contend with her own grief, she also had to share the news with Page’s parents in Australia and her two sons, ages 7 and 9, who had “adored” him. 

“We’re all just devastated. He was the most wonderful human I’ve met in my whole life.”

The two other men aboard the Great Slave Helicopters aircraft have been identified as Benton Davie, a helicopter engineer from Yellowknife, and Marcus Dyck, a leading Canadian polar bear scientist.

The purpose of the trip had been to survey the Lancaster Sound polar bear population.

The first date and the last message

Soares said she and Page met in Whitehorse last summer, while he was working on contracts with Great Slave Helicopters. 

“We just hit it off right away and become best friends.” 

Soares said Page had lived in Yellowknife, but he started living with her in Whitehorse, with her boys, in between contracts. He moved to Canada about five years ago, she said.

“He had this passion for life and lust for adventure, and I know that he would be whispering in my ear right now telling me to get up and keep going. Go for a hike. Do yoga. Live your life,” she said. “So we’re all going to try and do that, to honour his memory.” 

Their first date, said Soares, had been up Grey Mountain near Whitehorse. 

Page had lived in Canada for five years, and grew up in Queensland, Australia. (Submitted by Sandra Soares)

“I wanted to show him where the cave was, but I wasn’t entirely sure where the cave was, which he kind of thought was hilarious being a pilot. He’s very good at navigation.” 

Soares said she went by the name “Lou,” with Steve, and it was in true “Lou and Steve fashion” that they ended up bushwhacking their way up and finding a second cave.

Sandra Soares said Page had been living with her and her two sons in Whitehorse between contracts with Great Slave Helicopters. (Submitted by Sandra Soares)

“So we wrote in that little notebook that, ‘There’s another cave! From Steve and Lou.’ So if anyone’s up there, that was us, breaking the news.” 

The pair messaged daily, using a satellite communication device when he didn’t have cell service, she said. The afternoon of the crash, he told her he was longing for better food at the camp where he’d been staying.

“He was looking forward to a hot breakfast,” she said. “Looking forward to a hot breakfast and that he was heading out to Resolute. That was the last time I heard from him.” 

Open-minded, non-judgmental

Soares said she’s thankful for the sense of courage she received from her partner, and for the way he would encourage adventure in her life and her sons’ lives. 

“Anyone he meets will fall in love with him. He has this smile that just lights up a room,” she said. “He was open to anything I wanted to talk about; I never felt judged. And I think that’s something he offered a lot of people — just an open space to be themselves.”

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the April 25 crash. It said Thursday it would be deploying a team of investigators to gather information and assess what happened. 

The independent agency looks into incidents involving air, marine, pipeline and rail transportation with a goal of improving safety. It does not assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

With files from Jane Sponagle