Service to be held to commemorate 20th anniversary of Swissair disaster

 A service will be held in Bayswater, N.S., this afternoon to reflect on those affected by a disastrous airplane accident, which 20 years ago claimed 229 lives and touched countless others.  

First responders searched in vain for survivors of the crash on Sept. 2, 1998, after Swissair Flight 111 plunged into Nova Scotian waters after an electrical fire spread through the cockpit, causing a catastrophic failure.   

Claire Mortimer, who lost her father and stepmother in the crash, says today's service will both commemorate the people who died in the plane, as well as the Nova Scotians who responded to the disaster.

She says she's heard of at least two suicides by people involved in the recovery efforts, noting that while the pain of her loss has largely healed, some of the people who helped recover the bodies of the victims may still be dealing with the psychological toll of their grisly duty.  

Mortimer, a nurse practitioner who specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy, says she hopes to get in touch with first responders who worked at the site of the crash to help those who may be struggling connect with the resources they need.   

Rev. Louis Quennelle of the Parish of Blandford will perform the 20th anniversary service at 3 p.m. at the Bayswater Memorial Site, where the remains of many of those lost in the accident are interred.