1. #1
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry One for the books

    OCTOBER 13 -- QUITO, ECUADOR: Three of the ten people aboard a helicopter seized yesterday from an oil field in the Ecuadorean jungle are employees of Erickson Air-Crane, an Oregon company that operates heavy-lift helicopters on wildfires.

    A report by the Oregonian today says the State Department confirmed that three of those aboard work for Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon.

    Military officials said six Americans, a Chilean, an Argentine, and two Frenchmen were taken hostage at gunpoint at 4 a.m. yesterday in the El Coca region northeast of Quito. Americans aboard the aircraft included Dennis Correy, Steve Derry, Jason Wavey, David Bradley, and Ron Sanders.

    "The situation is still unclear," said Lee Ramage, Erickson's chief operating officer. Two other Americans are drilling rig employees from Helmerich and Payne, an Oklahoma-based drilling company.

    Erickson Air-Crane, founded in 1971, builds and operates S-64 helicopters for aerial firefighting, helicopter logging, aerial seeding, and heavy-lift operations. Erickson employees are the latest civilians kidnapped in South America; a Canadian company in 1999 paid $3.5 million ransom for the release of eight oil workers taken by kidnappers from Ecuador and Colombia. The story's online from the Oregonian, and Erickson Air-Crane is also online. Regular updates are posted to the Oregonian's NewsFlash site.

  2. #2
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest


    OCTOBER 17 -- GOLD HILL, OR: Kidnapped employees of Erickson Air-Crane, a helicopter firefighting company in Central Point, are getting the yellow ribbon tribute in Oregon. Yellow ribbons have been tied on trees at the Gold Hill city park, according to a report in the Oregonian, to show that three local men kidnapped in Ecuador are not forgotten.

    "We want to let the families of these men -- and these men -- know that the community is here for them and we support them," said Cheryl Joseph, president of the Gold Hill Nugget Club. Three of the ten people aboard a helicopter seized last week from an oil field camp in the Ecuadorean jungle are employees of Erickson Air-Crane, a company that operates heavy-lift helicopters on wildfires. Military officials said six Americans, a Chilean, an Argentine, and two Frenchmen were taken hostage at gunpoint at 4 a.m. last Thursday in the El Coca region northeast of Quito. Erickson employees Steve Derry, 40, Arnold Alford, 41, and Jason Weber, 29, are among the hostages.

    U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of said he planned to raise the issue with the foreign minister from Ecuador, who was scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., this week.

    "You've got to make sure these folks stay on the map, because there are so many other things going on around the world that our State Department is engaged in," said Walden. Besides the city park, yellow ribbons symbolizing hopes for a safe return were tied on oak trees outside Erickson Air-Crane and at Hanby Middle School. The story's online from the Oregonian.

  3. #3
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest


    USFS Fire News

    Ransom Demanded for Release of Hostages
    DECEMBER 02 -- CENTRAL POINT, OR: Ecuadorean kidnappers reportedly want $80 million to free eight workers kidnapped in October, including three Oregonians employed by Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point.

    Mike Derry of Medford, whose brother Steve is among the hostages, told the Oregonian that he's feeling positive about the chances for release of the hostages. "I believe the people handling this are on top of it," he said.

    Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Quito confirmed that Americans with federal agencies are among those working in Ecuador to end the hostage ordeal. "There are appropriate U.S. officials down here working on the case," said press attaché Scott Rauland. Three men from Gold Hill – Steve Derry, Arnold Alford, and Jason Weber – are employees of Erickson Air-Crane heavy-lift helicopter company that operates helitankers for firefighting. The men were among 10 oil workers kidnapped when about 40 gunmen stormed an oil camp in the El Coca region and commandeered a helicopter. Two French hostages later escaped, leaving eight hostages in the hands of what Ecuadorean officials describe as a gang of international criminals.

    Erickson Air-Crane has confirmed that four of their employees, including New Zealander Dennis Corrin, are among the hostages. "We balance the general public's need to know against the potential safety ramifications of our employees, and choose to err on the side of employee safety in our general release of information," said Chief Operating Officer Lee Ramage. "Accordingly, Erickson can neither confirm nor deny speculative reports of various news organizations."

    Among those reports was a November 17 story in Quito's El Comercio newspaper quoting anonymous Ecuadorean officials that an $80 million ransom demand had been received by the hostage's employers. The kidnappers are thought to be the same ones who in September 1999 took hostage eight oil workers, including seven Canadians and one American, and released them 100 days later after reportedly receiving $3.5 million in ransom money.

    The story's online from the Oregonian.

  4. #4
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Foreign oil workers freed in Ecuador jungle
    Thursday, March 1, 2001

    By CARLOS CISTERNAS of The Associated Press
    Latest news on hostage release

    QUITO, Ecuador (AP) -- Seven foreign oil workers -- including four Americans -- kidnapped last October in Ecuador's petroleum-rich northeast jungle were freed Thursday.

    An oil industry source said a $13 million ransom was paid.

    Ecuador's defense ministry said in a statement that the freed men, who also included a Chilean, an Argentine and a New Zealander, were released before noon Thursday and picked up by a military patrol. President Gustavo Noboa's office said the men were "in good condition."

    News of their liberation was first released in Washington by Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, spokesman for U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

    Ecuadorean television reports said the captives were freed near Santa Rosa de Cascales, a few miles from Ecuador's northern border with Colombia, about 90 miles east of Quito.

    An Ecuadorean military intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the military patrol took all seven to Lago Agrio, 110 miles northeast of the capital, Quito.

    Local photographers and reporters saw the men in two military vehicles toward the army base outside of Lago Agrio.

    They were being treated for exhaustion, cuts and bruises, the military officer said. The men had trekked a long distance through the jungle to a prearranged rendezvous point for their release, he said.

    Ecuador's defense ministry said the kidnap victims were expected to be flown back to the capital, but did not say when.

    Ten foreign oil workers were kidnapped Oct. 12 from an oil camp in the Pompeya jungle region, about 45 mite sheet scrawled with the words in Spanish: "I am a gringo. For nonpayment of ransom. HP company."

    Military and oil industry sources said the killing came after the kidnappers refused to budge from an $80 million ransom demand.

    Police sources told The Associated Press that negotiators settled on a $13 million ransom in mid-February, just ahead of the kidnappers' deadline to kill a second captive.

    An oil industry source from a company that employs one of the captives told The Associated Press that the ransom was wrapped in plastic and delivered last Thursday, thrown from a helicopter near the Ecuadorean banks of the San Miguel River, which separates Ecuador from Colombia.

    El Comercio, Quito's leading daily, reported the ransom was paid in non-sequential $100 bills.

    Jimmie Gimmeson, the mother of kidnapping victim David Bradley, another Helmerich & Payne employee, said last week that she had received confirmation from the company that ransom was paid after the kidnappers sent back answers to questions she provided -- answers only her son could know.

    The American captives have been identified as Bradley of Casper, Wyo., and Arnold Alford, Steve Derry and Jason Weber of Gold Hill, Ore., all employees of Erickson Air-Crane, a helicopter company.

    The other hostages are Dennis Corrin of New Zealand, an Erickson employee; German Scholz of Chile, a consultant for energy giant Repsol-YPF SA; and Juan Rodriguez of Argentina, an employee of a subsidiary for Schlumberger Ltd., a New York-based oil field services company.

    Authorities believe the kidnappers are members of the same criminal gang that held seven Canadians and an American for ransom for 100 days in 1999.

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