The Snowbirds team will take a break from their flight across Canada to mourn the death of their public relations officer in a crash in Kamloops Sunday.
In a statement, Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds, said the team was devastated by the loss of Capt. Jennifer Casey when her jet crashed into a home in Kamloops just before noon.
“She absolutely loved what she did; she was one of the main reasons Operation Inspiration has been so well received by the public,” French said. The Snowbirds had been flying across the country to raise morale amid the restrictions placed on Canadians while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She had just received a 1 Canadian Air Division Commander’s coin in recognition of her stellar efforts and a nomination was being drafted for a Chief of the Defence Staff commendation.”
French called Casey the “quintessential” public relations officer. Casey joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2014 after working as a journalist in Halifax and Belleville. Casey initially joined as a direct entry officer and then as a public affairs officer for Royal Canadian Air Force at 8 Wing Trenton, RCAF’s home base for air mobility. She spent most of 2018 with the CF-18 Demo Team before joining the Snowbirds in November of that year.
The plane’s pilot, Capt. Rich MacDougall survived the crash with serious but not life threatening injuries.
”I’ve spoken to him, and assured him he has the full support of the Team and the Canadian Armed Forces while he too goes through this difficult time,” French said.
In Kamloops, mourners gathered to pay their respects to Casey as a group of First Nations drummers saluted the officers. In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one Canadian Armed Forces member, Capt. Jennifer Casey, and one injured, Capt. Richard MacDougall.”
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