A week after the Snowbirds flew over Collingwood and Barrie as part of a cross-country tour to raise the spirits of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission turned tragic on Sunday when one of its planes crashed in Kamloops, B.C., killing one member and injuring another.
The Snowbirds jet crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport in Kamloops and burst into flames in the front yard of a home.
CF Snowbirds identified the dead team member as Capt. Jenn Casey.
The RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team. We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends. Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries. – Comd RCAF pic.twitter.com/UZKJa6OT3S— CF Snowbirds (@CFSnowbirds) May 18, 2020
Capt. Richard MacDougall was the pilot of the aircraft. He has serious injuries that are not considered to be life-threatening.
According to the Royal Canadian AirForce website, Capt. Casey is from Halifax and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2014 after spending several years working as a radio reporter, anchor and producer in both Halifax and Belleville. She joined the Snowbirds in November 2018.
Witnesses said the jet took off from the airport in Kamloops and was following another when it appeared to veer up and then went into a nosedive. Video shows what appears to be one person ejecting from the aircraft before it crashed into a neighbourhood.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “deeply saddened” and that his thoughts are with the families of Capt. Casey and Capt. MacDougall, and the entire Snowbirds team. He thanked emergency crews in Kamloops for responding quickly.
“For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times,” Trudeau said.
“Every day, they represent the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication. Their flyovers across the country put a smile on the faces of Canadians everywhere and make us proud.
Please read my full statement on today’s tragic aircraft crash: https://t.co/mYQDc9fxFw— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 18, 2020