An aircraft with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration team crashed in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, killing one person and seriously injuring another.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that one member of the CF Snowbirds team has died and one has sustained serious injuries,” the Royal Canadian Air Force said.
“We can confirm that we have contacted all primary family members of those involved. More information will be communicated in the near future.”
Multiple sources told Global News that Capt. Jennifer Casey was killed in the crash. Casey, the team’s public affairs officer, is from Halifax, according to her Canadian Forces biography.
She joined the CAF in 2014, and the Snowbirds in 2018. Prior to that, she worked as a radio reporter, producer and anchor.
“Jenn was a delight to be around, solid in her work, and had such an infectiously upbeat and genuine way about her,” Scott Simpson, Casey’s former colleague at Halifax’s News 95.7, said in a Facebook post.
“We could all see the pride she expressed in her work with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds as Captain Jenn Casey.
“I don’t know her family, but my thoughts go out to them, and everyone else who knew and loved Jenn.”
The Canadian Forces said the other victim’s injuries were considered non-life-threatening. In a tweet Sunday night, the RCAF identified him as Capt. MacDougall.
Capt. Richard MacDougall is listed in a Sunday night statement by the CAF as the pilot of the aircraft and one of the team’s coordinators.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement Sunday night that he was “deeply saddened” by the crash, and that his thoughts were with all those who were involved.
“I know that all Canadians grieve this tragic loss,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with the families of Capt. Casey and Capt. MacDougall, and the Snowbirds team: “All Canadians are with you during this difficult time.”
Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette said she is “devastated” by the news.
“To the Royal Canadian Air Force, the military Public Affairs Branch, and the entire Canadian Armed Forces community, Canada stands with you today and in the days to come. You are in our hearts.”
The fleet of aircraft — the CT-114 Tutor — has been placed on “operational pause,” according to a CAF statement Sunday night.
Operation Inspiration has also been delayed “indefinitely” and a flight safety investigation will be carried out.
“A RCAF Flight Safety team will depart from Ottawa shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival,” the statement said.
“One of the aims of the flight safety program is to investigate such occurrences with the objective of quickly identifying effective preventive measures that will either prevent or reduce the risk of similar occurrences in the future.”
The crash occurred as the aircraft was taking off from the airport in Kamloops. The BC Ambulance Service says it received a call around 11:30 a.m. and deployed multiple units, both ground and air. One patient was taken to hospital by ground ambulance.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said first responders were called to a fire at one home — the site of the plane crash — and an injury at another.
“This accident today really shakes us to our core,” he said. “But we will respond to it in every way that we can to support the Canadian military as well as the women and men in service.”