10/22/2015 06:46 EDT | Updated 10/28/2015 11:59 EDT

Saskatchewan Helicopter Crash Leaves 2 Dead

Officers learned about the crash near the village of Paynton about 2 p.m.

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PAYNTON, Sask. — Two men working to repair power lines died Thursday in a helicopter crash on the North Saskatchewan River near Paynton, Sask.

RCMP identified them as a 55-year-old pilot from Campbell River, B.C., and his 30-year-old passenger from Prince Albert, Sask.

RCMP and STARS air ambulance were called to the scene at about 2 p.m. Thursday.

A witness told CTV News he saw the aircraft crash onto an island on the river.

"I presume it was pulling lines across the river. All of a sudden I saw debris flying off the top of the chopper, and it just nosedived,'' the witness said.

"You couldn't count to three before it hit the ground.''

A SaskPower spokesman confirmed the company contracted the helicopter to work on power lines, but gave no other details about the work.

The witness said the island the helicopter crashed on was covered in trees and bush.

"There was smoke coming out of it almost instantly,'' he said. "There was white smoke coming and then black smoke, but there were no flames. We never did see any flames.''

The events leading up to the crash will be investigated by the Transportation Safety Board, and the RCMP has notified Occupational Health and Safety.

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