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Canadian Air Demonstration captain killed in tragic plane crash during Sunday performance

4 years 3 weeks 6 days ago Monday, May 18 2020 May 18, 2020 May 18, 2020 5:27 AM May 18, 2020 in News
Source: CNN
Captain Jennifer Casey Photo: CNN

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, an air demonstration squadron similar to the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, were engaged in a weeks-long operation to uplift the country's spirits and honor those impacted by coronavirus, when one of their pilots was killed in a tragic crash on Sunday.

According to CNN, The Snowbirds were taking on an Operation dubbed 'Inspiration,' when Snowbirds Captain Jennifer Casey and her pilot, Captain Richard MacDougall, crashed in Canada's city of Kamloops, which is north east of Seattle.

Casey lost her life, but MacDougall is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

A Kamloops resident told CTV network she decided to go outside to watch the aircraft right before the crash.

"Just as I'm walking outside we hear this huge 'boom' and we come out and we just look down the street and there's just this big, huge thing of flames and smoke," the resident said. "It was quite emotional, quite scary. I was shaking."

Casey was the team's public affairs officer, the National Defence Canadian Armed Forces said in a news release.

Casey, who was from Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2014, according to her biography on the Royal Canadian Air Force website. She had spent years before that working as a reporter, anchor and producer for broadcast radio.

She joined the Snowbirds in November 2018, her biography says.

Authorities have begun investigating the incident to determine what may have caused the crash. The military indicated they are also sending an investigation team to Kamloops, the city's mayor, Ken Christian, said.

In the meantime, he said the Snowbirds were grounded in Kamloops.

The cross-country tour began on May 2, according to a statement posted on the team's website late April.

"Through Operation INSPIRATION, we not only want to salute the front-line health-care workers, first responders, and essential workers, but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of Covid-19. We want Canadians to know we're in this with you," Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds had said in a statement.

In a statement following the crash, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was deeply saddened by the loss.

"For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times. 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," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the families of Captain Casey and Captain MacDougall, as well as the entire Canadian Forces Snowbirds team, as they grieve this terrible loss," the prime minister added.

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