Several witnesses questioned as investigation opens
By Tania Arora, Staff Writer
A few moments before its scheduled landing aboard HMCS Fredericton where its shipmates were ready to receive it, the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off Greece. The aircraft carried six passengers—four aircrews and two sailors.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement on the event on the beginning of the month. “Today, with the call to end the search and rescue mission, I join all Canadians in mourning the loss of six Canadian Armed Forces members in the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter accident near Greece earlier this week,” he said.
The victims of the crash were Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, and Master Corporal Matthew Cousins.
The rescue team was able to recover the safety recorders of the flight as they were designed in a way that they would break away in case of an accident and float to the surface. They are currently under analysis in Ottawa at the National Research Council.
Trudeau appreciated the brave-hearted in a press release about the incident. “Every day these brave Canadians in uniform put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country and our citizens safe, and together we will honour their service to Canada and our closest allies,” he said. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said to Reuters, “We will leave no stone unturned.” He further added that this incident is an example of the dangers men and women in the Armed Forces face every day.
Italy, the US, Greece, and Turkey have also joined the Canadian troops in the rescue mission. So far, only the remains of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough have been recovered; the other five are considered missing.
The CH-148 Cyclone helicopter was doing a training exercise during a mission when contact was lost. The military is not concerned about the loss of the vehicle. Sajjan has promised to keep the family and public informed of the progress on the incident.