Capt. Jennifer Casey was the crew member who died in the crash, the Canadian Armed Forces said in a statement Sunday.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one Canadian Armed Forces member, Captain Jennifer Casey, and one injured, Captain Richard MacDougall, in today’s Snowbirds aircraft crash in Kamloops, British Columbia,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement late Sunday.
He said the squadron represents “the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication” and offered condolences to Casey’s friends and family.
“All Canadians are with you during this difficult time,” he added.
MacDougall, who was piloting the aircraft, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from his injuries, officials said.
Casey was a public affairs officer for the Snowbirds. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she joined the Canadian Armed Forces nearly six years ago and had been flying with the Snowbirds since November 2018. Before she joined the military, she had worked as a journalist in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Military officials said a flight safety inspection will be conducted to ensure the squadron can continue to fly safely and determine the cause of the crash. The air shows will be temporarily halted, they added.
“The whole Defence Team family is deeply saddened by the loss of Captain Jenn Casey. Deepest condolences to her loved ones, and to her colleagues in the Snowbirds, the RCAF and her fellow Public Affairs Officers,” Jody Thomas, deputy minister of national defense, said in a statement Sunday. “We also wish Captain Richard MacDougall a steady recovery through these most difficult of times.”
The RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team. We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends. Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries. - Comd RCAF pic.twitter.com/UZKJa6OT3S— CF Snowbirds (@CFSnowbirds) May 18, 2020
The Snowbirds’ nine jets have been traveling across Canada, performing air shows as part of “Operation Inspiration,” performances intended to raise morale among people shut in their homes because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The team of jets made their way across Canada, beginning in Nova Scotia and reaching Kamloops in British Columbia this weekend.
As the plane veered off-course, video of the takeoff and crash appeared to show a person eject as the jet plummeted and captured a booming explosion as the jet slammed into the ground.
The plane careened into the front garden of a home, setting a house on fire, the City of Kamloops confirmed Sunday afternoon. No other injuries from the crash or the damaged house were reported Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, a reporter for a local radio station interviewed a family who said they lived across the street from the burning house.
“All of our friends started calling us, asking if we were okay,” Crystal Cox told Radio NL Kamloops. “Our neighbors across the street, their house is on fire. There’s parts of the airplane in our yard.”
After the crash, residents created a memorial at the Kamloops airport, tying homemade signs, heart-shaped balloons and handwritten notes to the chain-link fence enclosing the airfield.