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‘Woman Honors Brother Who Passed Away in Northwest Territories Plane Crash’

One of the victims of a charter plane crash outside of Fort Smith, N.W.T., earlier this week was a heavy equipment operator at a diamond mine who loved playing music and being an uncle, his sister said on Jan. 26.

Crystal Benwell confirmed her brother, Howie Benwell, was on a British Aerospace Jetstream that crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 23. Four passengers and two crew members died. One survivor is in hospital in Yellowknife.

“Howie was able to light up the room wherever he went,” Ms. Benwell said in a Facebook message.

“He was an inspiration to many in and around our community.”

Howie Benwell, who recently turned 30, was headed to work at the Diavik Diamond Mine when the plane operated by Northwestern Air Lease hit the ground and caught fire.

He worked as a heavy equipment operator at the mine, some 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

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Crystal Benwell said her brother was the youngest of the family, loved playing guitar and bass, and held a special spot for his two young nieces.

“He is greatly missed,” she said.

Clayton Balsillie previously confirmed his sister Diane Balsillie, who also worked at the mine, was among those killed.

Investigators started going through the crash site on Jan. 25.

The Transportation Safety Board released photos from the scene showing the wreckage of the charter plane in a heavily wooded area.

The agency said this kind of investigation is generally completed within 15 months.

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