MONT-LAURIER, Que. – A CTV cameraman who died in a helicopter crash was filming from the chopper with broken ribs and a cast on his wrist, his heartbroken father said Wednesday.
“Everybody’s tearful and it’s sort of like being hit with a club,” Bill Haugland told The Canadian Press from his home in Vermont.
“You can’t think straight. Trying to connect the dots is very difficult.”
Hugh Haugland, 44, and pilot Roger Belanger, who was in his 60s, died when the helicopter crashed just off Highway 117, northwest of Montreal.
Belanger was giving Haugland an aerial tour of Mont-Laurier after a tornado hammered the town on Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, although the weather had cleared up when the helicopter went down.
The elder Haugland, a household name in English Quebec because of his lengthy career as an anchorman with CTV’s Montreal affiliate, choked up as he said his son’s death will leave “a hole in our hearts forever.”
Haugland described his son as a gifted cameraman who really “earned his stripes” by getting the difficult and sometimes dangerous shots.
He called his son a hard worker who was actually filming from the helicopter with broken ribs and a cast on his wrist after a recent cycling accident.
Jed Kahane, CTV Montreal’s director of news and public affairs, said Haugland was a “tireless worker” who will be sorely missed.
“Hugh was, you know, a fantastic cameraman…..with incredible passion for the news business and for the people that he covered,” Kahane said in an interview.
Kahane said Haugland was one of three cameramen he worked with closely during the nine years he spent as Montreal bureau chief.
“He worked in a business that was full of rushing around and tight deadlines but he always managed to find time to take care of people around him, those who he was covering that were suffering,” he said.
“He was a wonderful man and we’ll miss him.”
He is survived by his daughters Evie, 19 and Lianne 14.
A witness to the crash told an all-news channel the chopper was burning after it crashed and that there was nothing to do to save the occupants.
CTVglobemedia CEO Ivan Fecan issued a statement in which he offered his condolences to both families.
“A dedicated CTV employee for the past 24 years and the son of former CTV Montreal anchor Bill Haugland, Hugh has been part of the CTV family for many years,” Fecan said.
“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Hugh’s family, loved ones, friends and colleagues at CTV Montreal.
“CTV also extends our condolences to the family of Roger Belanger.”
(With files from Tobi Cohen in Montreal)