The Sikorsky S-76 circled low over the Legacy Pacific warehouses on South Sumas Road, Sunday. On the ground, Chilliwack firefighters anchored bright orange traffic cones, marking the landing zone for the medevac pilot above.
After one pass, the pilot waved off the first site, opting instead for a more open parking lot 100 metres to the east.
As the massive rotors slowed to silence, an ambulance crawled forward to the waiting helicopter.
Inside was a 15-year-old boy who only minutes earlier had been struck by a train while driving a tractor over an uncontrolled rail crossing.
Badly injured, the boy was stabilized on site by advanced life support paramedics before being loaded into an ambulance for the short ride to the helicopter.
A second person, who had been riding the trailer being towed by the tractor, was also injured and treated on site before being transported to hospital.
The impact had knocked the Kubota front-end loader several metres down the track, spilling diesel into the gully at trackside.
The train, which was shuttling grain cars to the nearby Rogers flour mill, sustained only minor damage.
Police and firefighters cordoned off the area, rerouting traffic around the accident scene for several hours.
The crash occurred just before noon. By 1 p.m. the Sikorsky helicopter – its young patient onboard, having received shouts of encouragement from friends and neighbours before takeoff – was high above the Fraser River, en route to B.C. Children’s Hospital.
The teen remains in hospital, listed in serious but stable condition. Surgery is scheduled for later this week.
His family is by his side.
Police continue to investigate.