'This is a time of agony': 1 dead, 5 missing in Canadian military helicopter crash

Elisabetta Bianchini
·3 min read

4:00 p.m.

The names of all six individual on the CH148 cyclone helicopter during the crash have been revealed:

The five Canadians confirmed missing are:

  • Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Pilot, originally from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

  • Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot, originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia

  • Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer, originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec

  • Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia

  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, originally from Guelph, Ontario

Department of National Defence
Department of National Defence

Rear-Admiral Craig Baines, commander of Maritime command component with the Canadian Armed Forces, said the helicopter and the HMCS Fredericton ship were taking park in training with Italian and Turkish allies. It was on the completion of the training that the helicopter crashed.

Four ships, including the HMCS Fredericton, two Italian ships and one Turkish ship continue to search with shipborne helicopters and fixed-wing patrol aircrafts from Italy, the U.S. and Greece.

“During this time, it is comforting to know that we have support from the international community,” Colonel James Hawthorne said in Thursday afternoon’s press conference.

Rear-Admiral Baines said search conditions are good but the search area is much larger. They are in approximately 3,000 metres of water, which makes thing “difficult.” This search has been going on for over 24 hours, assisted by the “terrific work” of Canada’s allies. A fight safety team will depart Canada shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident as well.

Debris has been found but it is too early for search crews and Canadians officials to determine what caused the crash.

“Events like this remind us of the dangers that come with our call to service,” Colonel Hawthorne said.

“This is a time of agony”

Prime minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canadians following a military helicopter crash with six members of the Canadian Armed Forces on board Wednesday night.

Trudeau confirmed one casualty, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a member of the navy, was recovered and five are still missing. The RCAF cyclone helicopter flying from the HMCS Fredericton.

The helicopter crashed off the coast of Greece, in the Ionian Sea, while being deployed with a NATO naval task force, Operation Reassurance. At approximately 6:52 p.m. the HMCS Fredericton lost contact with the helicopter and shortly after, flares were seen in the water.

“This is a time of agony,” General Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, said. “There is nothing worse than sending your shipmates over the horizon and losing contact.”

General Vance said 240 Canadian Armed Forces members were deployed in January for Operation Reassurance, scheduled return in July. At the time of the accident, the group was conducting training.

Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, said ships, aircrafts and helicopters were engaged in search and rescue efforts overnight.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time but the flight data and voice recorder have been recovered, and are being analyzed. The families of the individuals on the helicopter have been notified.

General Vance explained that the recorder broke away from the helicopter and floated, and search teams were able to find the beacon to recover it. He added that there is a “pretty sizeable debris field.”

“Each of them will leave a void that cannot be filled,” Trudeau said. “They do what they always do, step towards danger so the rest of us can stay safe.

General Vance said he doesn’t have any concerns about the helicopter but all helicopters are going on an “operation pause” to allow the flight safety team to determine if there is an issue with these aircrafts.