Members of the Canadian Forces have been treated like family by Brocklehurst residents this week while at the scene of last Sunday’s Snowbird CT-114 Tutor jet crash.
The incident claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and left Capt. Richard MacDougall in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
A group of five members of 19 Wing Comox’s recovery and salvage team could be found on Thursday meeting at the crash site at 2425 Glenview Ave.
As they talked, a child in the back of a passing SUV wished them well with their work.
That pleasantry is one of many examples of the kindness the neighbourhood has expressed to the Canadian Forces while in town investigating the cause of the crash.
“Everybody’s been incredible, really well-received and helpful in many ways,” Sgt. Ewan McLeod told KTW.
“They’re giving us water, food, Freezies — everything. [They’re] just being very supportive and that’s honestly a lot for us,” Capt. Clarize Virtusio said.
Residents have even offered up their homes for lodging or showers, which hasn’t been necessary as the 19 Wing team has been put up in hotel rooms.
“The community really came together to make us feel comfortable,” Master Cpl. Dan Grady said, noting there have been some hot days at the site.
The team’s job involved cutting the wreckage into pieces and removing it from the scene and help the investigative team gather information and photos.
The work is difficult at times, Grady said.
“Sometimes you just switch off and you’ve got a job to do and you do the job, but there’s been some times where you turn over a piece of equipment and you realize the human connection there,” Grady said. “Somebody, A, passed away and, B, somebody else got seriously injured. We’re still human, so it bothers us.”
The wreckage has since been cleared from the site and the recovery team was expected to depart Kamloops by Saturday. The plane parts were to be loaded onto a truck on Friday.
Snowbirds commanding officer Lieut.-Col. Mike French has said the investigation into the cause of the crash could take up to a year to complete.
While the recovery and salvage team was not able to comment on the investigation itself, Cpl. Bobby Keeping said such investigations tend to involve many puzzle pieces, taking time to put together.
Lt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Comox, which is assisting the Snowbirds, said the public’s hospitality to the members of the Canadian Forces in town this week has helped lift their spirits.
“Even for an investigation team, it was a very sombre setting for us,” Hejduk said.
Some examples of that kindness around the scene included providing a cooler of cold drinks, chairs for anyone needing a break and a lasagna dinner and a barbecue, Hejduk said.