Families of Ornge Air Ambulance crash victims reflect on investigation
'We have individuals who lost their lives at the neglect of so many government institutions'
Jacques Dagenais recalls a phone call he had with his 34-year-old son Dustin shortly before an Ornge Air Ambulance crashed in Moosonee, Ont., three years ago.
"He shared with me how proud he was and how privileged he felt to work with the Aboriginal population," Jacques said.
"How he felt useful in helping them, rescuing them, providing the health care that they needed. Loved and proud to be a paramedic and to be at Ornge."
Dustin was one of four people who were killed in the crash on May 31, 2013 — the same day as his father Jacques' birthday.
Capt. Don Filliter of Skead, Ont.; First Officer Jacques Dupuy of Otterburn-Park, Que.; and Chris Snowball of Burlington, Ont., also died in the accident.
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) released its report about the investigation into the crash on Wednesday.
It found Ornge did not ensure the crew was operationally ready for their flight, and that Transport Canada did not do enough to make sure Ornge was compliant with regulations and company requirements.
"It's overwhelming, it angers us and it confuses us," Jacques said. "At the end of the day we have individuals who lost their lives at the neglect of so many government institutions."
Dustin's mom Carol said she is still waiting for measures to be put in place so an accident like this never happens again.
"We were hoping good would come out of this and that's the only solace we can have," Carol said.
TSB has released 14 recommendations aimed at improving oversight, flight rules, pilot readiness and equipment.
Dustin's cousin Randy said it is good to finally get some answers.
But he said his family will only find closure once there's accountability.
"Ultimately our fear is that nothing will get done. No real changes will occur and this may happen again," Randy said.
"[Dustin] was doing something he loved and that does bring a little bit of consolation. But it's frustrating when this could have all been prevented."
Kapuskasing paramedic remembered for ability to bring people together
Dustin is survived by his wife and a young daughter who was born a few months before the accident.
Randy calls Dustin a unifier — someone who brought friends and family together.
"We miss him every day," Randy said.
"No matter how good of a time we're having it's just never as it used to be."
Jacques agreed. "[Dustin] had an ability to make everybody feel as if they were being seen and appreciated," he said.
He said when Dustin died the First Nations communities on the James Bay Coast, where he served, came together to honour him with song.
"They said Dustin not only honoured them while he lived, but he shed his blood on their ground," Jacques said. "So they sang the song of a warrior."
Report brings back a 'flood of memories' for Filliter family
Capt. Don Filliter's widow Suzanne shared a statement on Wednesday in light of the TSB's report, calling it a bittersweet day for her family.
"While we are pleased that a thorough investigation has been completed into the tragedy that claimed Don's life, the release of the report brings back a flood of memories for us," Suzanne wrote.
"We remember a wonderful man, husband, and father who was taken from us much too soon. Now that the report has been released, we will continue our process of grieving for Don, and we look forward to changes being made that will prevent a similar tragedy from happening again."