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Peter Clunas was described by his family as a larger-than-life character who loved flying. Photo: Peter Clunas family/BBC
Peter Clunas was described by his family as a larger-than-life character who loved flying. Photo: Peter Clunas family/BBC

Police Scotland have named the pilot who was killed in a helicopter crash yesterday while carrying out work for the Scottish Salmon Company on North Uist.

The helicopter could be seen upside down and partially submerged in the loch. Photo: BBC
The helicopter could be seen upside down and partially submerged in the loch. Photo: BBC

He was Peter Clunas, 59, from the Newburgh area in Aberdeenshire.  He leaves a partner Angela and two sons Alasdair and Bob from his previous marriage to Jane.

In a statement, his family said: “We would like to thank emergency services for all their efforts at the scene of the accident.

“Peter was a larger than life character who loved flying. He was a keen cyclist and swimmer.

“He will be missed by all who knew him.”

The pilot was the sole occupant of the helicopter when it came down into the water at Loch Scadavay.

Western Isles area commander Chief Inspector Ian Graham said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Clunas’s family and friends at this difficult time, as well as the local community on North Uist.

“I would also take the opportunity to express our thanks to the members of the public who assisted at the scene during this tragic incident.

Enquiries ongoing

“Our enquiries to establish the full circumstances are ongoing and officers have been liaising with partner agencies, including the Air Accident Investigation Branch which has attended at the scene today.”

Police Scotland, HM Coastguard, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service all responded to yesterday’s accident, which was reported at 10.15am, and the A867 was closed between Lochmaddy and Clachan Na Luib.

The helicopter’s owner, PDG Aviation, which has its headquarters in Inverness and a base at Cumbernauld Airport, near Glasgow, said the aircraft had not been carrying live fish, and that it had had no previous accidents with that type of helicopter.

Identify the cause

In a statement on the company’s website, chief executive Jerry Francis said: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of one of our pilots following the crash of an AS350B2 helicopter whilst undertaking load lifting tasking yesterday (13th June).

“The incident occurred in North Uist at approximately 10:15. We are working closely and tirelessly with the authorities to identify the cause of the incident. Our deepest sympathy is with the pilot’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Salmon Company said: “The Scottish Salmon Company is deeply saddened by the death of the helicopter pilot following the incident yesterday in North Uist. Our thoughts are with his family and the local community at this difficult time.

“We are co-operating fully with the authorities involved in the investigation.”

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