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Swissair 111 crash: A friendship born in tragedy

At 10:31 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1998, many Nova Scotians felt their homes tremble as Swissair 111 smashed into the waters off Peggy's Cove, killing all 229 people on board. Years later, this remains, in part, a Canadian tragedy. Although only four Canadians were killed on the flight, the crash of Swissair 111 had an enduring impact in Canada. Local fishermen led the search for survivors, residents welcomed the victims' families and the names of the dead are etched in stone monuments on the coast.

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When their son Monte died on Swissair 111, David and Janet Wilkins traveled to Peggy's Cove, N.S. to mourn, but also found some solace in two new and unlikely friends. While there, the Wilkinses forged a friendship with a local couple, Bob and Peggy Conrad. Affected by the crash in their own separate ways, they found common ground in their faith and grief. Now, almost five years after flight 111 plunged into the choppy waters off Peggy's Cove, the two couples keep a tight bond that has risen above their mutual pain
• Swissair 111 crashed into the ocean at 10:31 p.m., roughly 20 minutes after the pilots first detected a problem. Over the next several hours, nearby residents and emergency workers scoured the waters in a search for survivors. All they found was luggage, clothing, personal items and body parts. • In the weeks after the crash, seven naval ships and submarines from three nations helped to search for bodies, wreckage and the flight data recorder.

• Canadian sailor Lorne Joudrey took part in the rescue efforts and later sued Swissair for psychological damage he suffered as a result of recovering human body parts from the water. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder a month after the crash and was discharged from the navy two years later because he was unfit for duty. A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge threw out the case in 2004, saying Swissair could not have reasonably foreseen that anyone would suffer psychological damage as a result of a recovery operation.

• David Wilkins' book United By Tragedy was published in 2003 by Pacific Press Publishing.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 27, 2003
Guest(s): Bob Conrad, Peggy Conrad, David Wilkins, Janet Wilkins
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Anne Petrie
Duration: 12:18

Last updated: April 2, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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