Investigation into fatal Snowbirds crash could take up to a year

CAPTAIN-JENN-CASETY

It could take up to a year for the public to learn what exactly caused the fatal Snowbirds jet crash in Kamloops, B.C.

Lt. Col. Mike French, commanding officer of the Snowbirds, spoke to media Monday, just a day after Capt. Jenn Casey was killed, and pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall was seriously injured in the crash.

French also confirmed that both MacDougall and Casey ejected before the jet crashed.

He said an investigation is underway in Kamloops, but it could take up to one year before the results of it become public.

French added that he had spoken to Casey's family to offer condolences on behalf of the Snowbirds, and has spoken to Capt. MacDougall directly to offer him support in his recovery.

"I've spoken with Jenn's family and passed on our sincere and heartfelt condolences," he said. "No words can comfort the pain they're feeling right now and I've passed on that they are not grieving alone... We are also thinking of Capt. MacDougall at this time, and supporting him as he recovers from his injuries. I've spoken to him and assured him that he has the full support of the team and the Canadian Armed Forces, as he goes through this difficult time."

But French was also pressed on the safety of the Snowbirds, and whether the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces should consider grounding them.

"The mission for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, as Canadian ambassadors, we demonstrate the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the Canadian Forces, and we serve as a platform for recruiting. It's a mission that I can get behind, it's a mission I believe in, and it's a mission that I believe is important, so I certainly hope that our mission will continue," French said.

An investigation team is due to arrive in Kamloops to try and determine the cause of the incident.

"Safety is the number one priority of the Snowbirds, and so yes, if you ask me if safety is a concern, it is always a concern to us, and that is why we're going through this investigation to find out exactly what happened before we take any further steps."

French said yesterday was a plethora of worst case scenarios, ultimately becoming the team's "worst nightmare".