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The Department of National Defence has released the names of five missing crewmembers, now officially presumed dead, who were involved in the April 29 CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crash.
In addition to Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a maritime systems engineering officer originally from Toronto whose death has been confirmed, the five other crew members who are missing and are now presumed dead include:
In a news release issued on May 1, the Canadian Armed Forces said that the search and rescue efforts of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) have officially transitioned into a recovery mission.
The helicopter was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea with HMCS Fredericton as part of SNMG2 under Operation Reassurance. At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships. The Cyclone was conducting concurrent flight operations.
The CAF said it is providing members and their families with as much support as possible, including a wide range of resources to help them through this difficult time.
LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF, and Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, issued the following joint statement:
“Our hearts are heavy with the recent news from HMCS Fredericton. There are no words to describe a loss as tragic as this. On behalf of the entire Air Force and Navy family, we offer our deepest condolences, love and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this devastating loss.
“Our thanks go out to all those involved in search efforts and in particular our NATO partners operating in the area.
“This incident serves as a difficult reminder of the sacrifice that our brave men and women face daily while defending and representing our nation, both at home and abroad. It also serves to remind us all how dangerous even routine operations at sea and in the air can be. In the face of these realities, the sailors and aviators aboard Navy frigates operate as one team – one family – a family that today mourns together.
“To the families and loved ones of Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, and Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke – we extend our deepest sympathies. As we take the time to come to terms with this tragedy, our thoughts are with you and we stand ready to support you through these difficult times.”
An RCAF Flight Safety team is en route to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival. In the meantime, Canada’s fleet of CH-148 maritime helicopters has been placed on an operational pause.