Nova Scotia·Video

Body of naval officer killed in helicopter crash returns to Nova Scotia

The body of naval officer Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, who died in a helicopter crash last month, arrived back in Halifax Monday evening.

Cowbrough, 23, was 1 of 6 Canadians killed in the crash

More than 150 first responders and members of a veterans social club follow the hearse carrying the body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough on Monday night from Halifax Stanfield International Airport to the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth. 3:57

The body of naval officer Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, who died in a helicopter crash last month, arrived back in Halifax Monday evening.

Cowbrough's family was joined by military and civilian dignitaries in a police-escorted motorcade to take Cowbrough's remains from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport to the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth. 

The motorcade left the airport just before 6:40 p.m. AT.

More than 150 first responders and members of a veterans social club gathered at the airport on Monday evening to follow the hearse. Two fire engines, several military police cars and many motorcycles followed the family's vehicle.

Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a marine systems engineering officer, died after a Canadian military helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in April. (Canadian Armed Forces)

"We wanted to show Abbigail how much we loved her and we wanted to show her family how much she meant to us," said Angus Cameron, one of the veterans club members, at the airport on Monday.

Cowbrough, 23, was a marine systems engineering officer aboard HMCS Fredericton. The vessel sailed from its home port of Halifax in January for a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea as part of a NATO operation.

On April 29, Cowbrough was on a Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopter when it crashed in international waters between Greece and Italy. Five other Canadians were also killed.

The hearse arriving at HMC Dockyard Halifax on Monday evening. (CBC )

It's unclear what caused the crash, and a thorough investigation could take more than a year.

The Department of National Defence said it understands and recognizes Canadians' grief and the need to mourn, but asked people to do it in a way that helps protect the health of everyone. People looking to pay their respects to Cowbrough were asked to practise physical distancing and obey traffic rules.

"It's an honour today to bring Abbigail back to Nova Scotia," said Warrant Officer Katie Buckland.

Buckland is part of 12 Wing Pipes and Drums, which is based at CFB Shearwater. Cowbrough was also part of the band, which Buckland said is like an extended family.

The Canadian killed in the helicopter crash are, clockwise from top left: Capt. Kevin Hagen, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin. (Department of National Defence)

The pipe band played as the procession arrived at the funeral home.

Buckland said one of the songs, Amazing Grace, was chosen because Cowbrough played that song aboard HMCS Fredericton days before her death, as a tribute to Nova Scotia after last month's mass shooting.

"We had the opportunity to pick specific music for Abbi and to play that here for her today, put our uniforms on and be really proud to give her one last salute and one last goodbye. It is almost like a last goodbye," Buckland said.

The other song chosen was Mist Covered Mountains.

Buckland said she hoped playing would give her and the other pipe band members a bit of closure.

"It's been challenging with the coronavirus regulations in the province. But we've used Zoom to its max capacity and we've raised a toast to Abbigail and we've shared a lot of funny stories," she said.

"Having those memories really helped us get through that and today will be really helpful as well."

Warrant Officer Katie Buckland says one of the songs the pipe band will play, Amazing Grace, was chosen because Cowbrough played it aboard HMCS Fredericton as a tribute to Nova Scotia after last month's mass shooting. (CBC)

The motorcade started at the airport and then made its way to Highway 102 and headed inbound. From there, vehicles travelled from Bayers Road down to Barrington Street and then to HMC Dockyard Halifax.

It then went from Barrington to Dartmouth via the MacKay Bridge. It took Highway 111 to Main Street and arrived at the Atlantic Funeral Home.

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