The red and white Snowbirds remain on the ground until the cause of the crash is determined. Snowbirds commanding officer Lieut.-Col. Mike French has said the investigation could take up to a year to complete. (Michael Potestio/Kamloops This Week)

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

  • May. 23, 2020 2:45 p.m.

–– Kamloops This Week

Some members of the Snowbirds team will call Kamloops home, remaining in the city to look after their CT-114 Tutor jets that remain grounded indefinitely on Fulton Field at Kamloops Airport.

On May 17, one of the jets crashed in Brocklehurst shortly after takeoff, claiming the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injuring Capt. Richard MacDougall who was piloting the plane. Both managed to eject from the plan before it crashed, but Casey succumbed to injuries suffered in the incident.

The Snowbirds were on a cross-Canada tour called Operation Inspiration, intended to salute frontline health-care workers and lift the spirits of the public amid the pandemic. The tour, which began on May 3 in Nova Scotia, has been suspended due to the tragedy.

Lt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Comox, said most members of the Snowbirds have now departed the city for Moose Jaw — the Snowbirds’ home base — via a Hercules plane, but a small contingent is staying behind, acting as stewards of the jets for as long as they need to be.

Hejduk said those team members will remain at whatever local hotel they have been staying, with the military covering the cost.

They are also supporting MacDougall, who is recovering at Royal Inland Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Hejduk couldn’t comment on the role MacDougall will play in determining the cause of the crash, but noted the investigative team is interviewing all witnesses, MacDougall being one of them.

Hejduk said the red and white Snowbirds remain on the ground until the cause of the crash is determined. Snowbirds commanding officer Lieut.-Col. Mike French has said the investigation could take up to a year to complete.

Military investigators arrived in Kamloops on May 18 and the wreckage of the plane was cleared from the crash site on Glenview Avenue by May 21.

First Military Police Regiment from Edmonton, with the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Rangers and Joint Task Force Pacific, secured the site, and the RCAF’s 19 Wing Comox aided with recovering the wreckage.

Hejduk said military personnel have some logistics and loose ends to tie up before departing Kamloops by the weekend. The wreckage will be transported to Ottawa.

Police tape at the crash site has been moved back to just outside the Glenview Avenue home the jet struck. One side of the house, which Hejduk said has been handed back to the homeowners, is charred and boarded up, with a few holes in the roof.

Footage of the crash site release on social media showed flaming wreckage up against that side of the home and what appeared to be the tail of the plane across the street.

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s directorate of flight safety team began its preliminary field investigation on May 18, amassing evidence and removing the wreckage from the site to be transported to a secure location, catalogued and analyzed, Hejduk said.

She said there is no timeline for completion of the investigation, noting people have been asking how long it will be before there are answers.

“Those members need to be able to do everything in the most thorough, objective and professional manner as possible so we can get down to the bottom of what happened,” Hejduk said.

On May 17, two Snowbirds jets departed Kamloops Airport, en route to Comox.

Casey and MacDougall’s jet began flying vertically before beginning to spiral toward the ground, followed by the subsequent crash.

Casey and MacDougall ended up on a Schreiner Street property — Casey in the backyard and MacDougall on the roof of the house — while the aircraft exploded and then fell into a Glenview Avenue front yard, about six doors away from the two crew members.

Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Canadian Armed Forces

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Long wait to reopen is over for Sidney gym

Owner of Sidney’s Anytime Fitness expects safety measures to be in place for some time

VIDEO: Langford man battling cancer honored with hot rod, motorcycle procession

Friends and family support Patrick O’Hara on his 73rd birthday

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Capital Regional District prepares to reopen regional campgrounds

Camping will look different at Island View, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River sites

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read