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Snowbirds team member killed in Kamloops, B.C. crash identified
VICTORIA -- One member of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds has died and another has sustained serious injuries after their plane crashed in Kamloops, B.C., while on a cross-country tour.
CTV News has confirmed that Capt. Jennifer Casey has been identified as the Snowbirds team member killed in the crash.
According to the Snowbirds website, Casey is originally from Halifax, N.S. and joined the Canadian Forces in 2014 following a career in journalism. She joined the Snowbirds in 2018.
The Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed the fatality in a tweet Sunday afternoon.
In a subsequent tweet, the RCAF said the surviving member's injuries, while serious, were not life threatening.
That member is Capt. Richard MacDougall, who was piloting the aircraft, according to a release from the Department of National Defence. MacDougall is one of the team's coordinators, the department said.
Kamloops RCMP confirmed Sunday afternoon that they received a report that a Snowbird plane had crashed into a residence on Glenview Avenue, at about 11:42 a.m. local time.
BC Emergency Health Services said multiple paramedics responded to the scene and one person was transported to hospital. EHS could not provide any information about that patient's condition.
The RCMP is asking for the public to avoid the area of Glenview, Crestline Street, Schreiner Street and Tranquille Road.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media on Sunday afternoon and said his thoughts are with the brave members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“I would also like to thank the emergency personnel in Kamloops who responded so quickly to this tragic incident,” he said.
In a statement, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he is saddened to hear of the crash.
“On behalf of the entire Conservative caucus, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team member who died in today’s tragic crash,” Scheer wrote in the statement. We wish the injured member a speedy recovery and would like to thank emergency personnel in Kamloops.”
“The Snowbirds have been traveling across the country for the past few weeks lifting Canadians’ spirits as part of Operation Inspiration. This is a tragic end to a tour that has brought much needed joy to so many.”
Federal Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan said on Twitter that he was "deeply saddened" by the news of the crash, and offered his thanks to local first responders.
Kamloops Airport confirmed it was also responding to the crash in a tweet.
'THERE WAS A FLASH'
CTV News Vancouver Island has confirmed with witnesses at the scene that the crash happened just before noon.
“I heard these two huge bangs and all of a sudden up in the sky there was a dark black circle of smoke,” said Kerri Turatus.
She was driving nearby and drove to Glenview Avenue, where the crash happened.
“It was red and white and you could distinguish on the one wing and the backside, I took a picture of it, being the red and white Snowbirds,” said Turatus.
Another witness tells CTV News he was in his living room and heard the Snowbirds take off.
“One of the snowbirds flying a little lower than expected did a barrel roll over Crestline,” said Mike Trafford. “There was a flash and a spark shortly after the barrel roll and I saw the pilot eject and the plane basically took a nosedive straight into the ground or in this case, what I’ve heard, straight into a house."
“The first thing I thought was, 'This isn’t right.' And it was almost a split second between seeing the pilot eject and the plane go straight down.”
Josh Cox lives across the street from where the plane came down. He told CTV News Channel his family was "lucky" to have avoided injury or damage in the incident.
"The tail of the plane was flying across the street and it was coming right at our house, but it ended up hitting a power pole and spinning around and ended up right on our front grass," Cox said.
He described the neighbourhood as "really tight," and said residents had checked on each other after the crash to ensure everyone was OK.
"There's debris everywhere," Cox said, describing the scene.
At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian thanked residents of the city's Brocklehurst neighbourhood for remaining calm and banding together in response to the crash.
"This accident today shakes us to our core," the mayor said, describing Kamloops as "a military town."
Christian said the Snowbirds would be remaining in Kamloops for the time being, and promised that the city would do everything it can to aid them during this difficult time.
The Snowbirds flew into British Columbia for their western leg of Operation Inspiration and were heading to Vancouver Island.
“We know some areas are starting to clear up, however transit through some of the mountain passes have very low cloud cover which is unsafe for flying nine jets,” reads a tweet from the group posted earlier Sunday morning.
The Snowbirds were expected to fly through the Okanagan Valley on Saturday, but said they were going to reposition to Comox.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday and Jen St. Denis, as well as CTVNews.ca's Adam Ward and Ben Cousins