A Kamloops resident who sent a giant get well soon card, signed by more than 100 well-wishers, to Capt. Richard MacDougall received word this week from the injured Snowbird pilot.
Jenn Carter dropped off the homemade, cardboard card for MacDougall while he was in Royal Inland Hospital in May. He texted her this past week to say how much the gesture meant to him, which she shared on social media.
“I really, really appreciate your amazing gift,” MacDougall wrote. “It’s thanks to people like yourself that I’ve been able to get up every day and press on.”
He said cards like Carter’s have helped him through his recovery, noting he plans to return to Kamloops once he is fully recovered and meet Carter.
On the morning of May 17, the CT-114 Tutor jet MacDougall was piloting crashed into a Brocklehurst neighbourhood shortly after takeoff from Kamloops Airport, killing passenger Capt. Jennifer Casey, the Snowbirds’ public affairs officer.
Both Casey and MacDougall managed to eject from the plane before it crashed, but Casey succumbed to injuries suffered in the incident. MacDougall was injured in the accident, landing on the roof of a home not far from the crash site.
What followed was an outpouring of grief and support that took the form of a half-kilometre makeshift memorial along a chain-link fence near the airport.
Carter said the idea to send the card was sparked when she was visiting the memorial.
“I noticed there wasn’t really a whole lot there for Richard. It was mostly in memory of Jenn and I thought it’d be nice to give something to Richard to know how much we’re thinking of him,” Carter said.
She wanted as many members of the community to be able to take part, so she made the card 1.2-feet wide and 2.2-feet long, decorating it with ribbons and photos.
She then reached out on Facebook, letting people people know the day and times she would stop by the Tranquille Road memorial with the card for anyone to sign.
“It was a really good turnout,” Carter said, adding she made three trips, usually about two hours at a time, and collected sentiments from many Kamloopsians and visitors from out of town.
The majority of signees were Brocklehurst residents, but the card was also signed by people from Vancouver, Vernon and Kelowna, with many ex-military members adding their thoughts.
In the card, Carter wrote that MacDougall was a hero in her eyes.
Carter stopped by RIH to deliver the card to MacDougall but wasn’t able to do so in person due to pandemic-related visitation restrictions, so she left it for him at the front desk.
MacDougall was discharged from the hospital at the end of May.
The Royal Canadian Air Force continues to investigate the crash and have deemed a birdstrike as the likely cause.