British Columbia

Canadian Legion in Kamloops, B.C., honours Snowbird crash victim with memorial ceremony

Thousands of people tuned in online Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash that killed one person and seriously injured another in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday.

Thousands tuned in to watch ceremony online

Kamloops Royal Canadian Legion president Daniel Martin lays a wreath in honour of Capt. Jenn Casey, who was killed in the Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash in Kamloops, B.C., on May 17. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Thousands of people tuned in online Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash that killed one person and seriously injured another in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday.

The jet crashed shortly after takeoff and burst into flames in the front yard of a house. It was heading for Comox, B.C., as part of the aerobatic flying team's Operation Inspiration tour across Canada. 

Capt. Jennifer Casey and Capt. Richard MacDougall were ejected from the plane. Casey died, and MacDougall, 34, remains in hospital with serious injuries. He is expected to recover

A limited number of mostly first responders and Canadian Forces members attended the ceremony in person, hosted by the Kamloops branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.  

"The Royal Canadian Legion was founded by veterans almost 100 years ago and the mission statement of the Legion is to support and assist veterans," Craig Thomson, vice-president of the B.C.-Yukon Legion told CBC's Jenifer Norwell.  

"What better support can we do for a fallen veteran than to have a tribute."

Craig Thompson, vice-president of the B.C.-Yukon Legion, stands near wreaths laid to honour the memory of Capt. Jennifer Casey. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

The event included the singing of O Canada, the laying of wreaths and The Last Post was played on the trumpet.

Daniel Martin, president of the local branch, said though the event was emotional for him on a personal level, it was important both for service members and for the people of Kamloops.

A trumpeter plays The Last Post at a memorial ceremony for Snowbird team member Capt. Jennifer Casey in Kamloops, B.C., Thursday. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

"The Snowbirds mission was to put a smile on the face of Canadians and the tragedy that happened this past weekend put everything in perspective," Martin said. 

"Being a veteran and to lay [a wreath] to remember her and to remember basically everybody that serves our country and give their life was extremely emotional but it meant a lot to us, to the Legion and to all of us here today."

A memorial created by Kamloops residents along the fence at the local airport continues to grow. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Though the event was not open to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing  rules, Kamloops residents continued to visit the memorial site set up along the fence at the airport to pay their respects. 

Gisele Machin and her husband Andy said they would have been to the ceremony if they had been allowed to attend, but visiting the memorial was their way of saying thank you to Casey and the Snowbirds for their service. 

"Their cause is why they were in this area in the first place and just trying to boost everybody's morale and spirit and then something so tragic like this takes them away is, it's horrific," Machin said.

With files from Jenifer Norwell

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.