Update: One dead in Snowbirds crash in Kamloops

Royal Canadian Air Forces confirms rescue operation in residential neighbourhood resulted in the death of a Snowbird member

A Canadian Forces Snowbirds member has died after crashing Sunday in Kamloops, B.C., according to the Royal Canadian Air Forces.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce that one member of the CF Snowbirds team has died and one has sustained serious injuries. We can confirm that we have contacted all primary family members of those involved. More information will be communicated in the near future," said RCAF at 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

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Capt. Jennifer Casey has been identified as the person who died, sources have confirmed to Castanet News. Casey was the public relations officer for the Snowbirds. 

Dramatic video footage posted to social media captured the crash, whereby a pilot and another member was ejected from the plane before it nosedived into a residential zone.

The fate of the Snowbirds members only became known hours after the crash, which happened near noon.

Photos of the aftermath showed members of the armed forces, Kamloops Fire Rescue, RCMP and BC Ambulance Service attending to the scene. At one point a person was seen taken from the roof of a home by a stretcher.

Videos of the incident show parachutes may not have been deployed or fully deployed by the ejected pilot. It wasn't initially clear whether there was only one person ejected from the plane, or two, however there were two objects that appeared to separate from the spiralling plane before impact.

Information rolled out from authorities on Sunday.

Police had asked for the public to refrain from attending the following streets in the area: Glenview Avenue, Crestline Street, Schreiner Street, Tranquille Road.

Health Minister Adrian Dix stated on Twitter: “Late this morning [Emergency services] received multiple calls about a plane crash near the Kamloops airport. Paramedics and air ambulances were dispatched and one individual was transported to hospital. Our thoughts are with all affected during this difficult time.”

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan expressed sadness and his thoughts with the Snowbirds crew and said the ministry will provide updates as more information comes in.

*Warning: Graphic language*

Castanet has posted photos of the aftermath online [here].

Kim Maloney told Castanet that just before noon she heard the Snowbirds flying over her house and she decided to head out to watch them take-off when she heard "an earth shaking bang and instantly smoke."

Fellow neighbour Tammy Franzman was outside doing something and saw the two planes loop around. Once she noticed one crashed she called 911 but couldn't get through because it was busy. 

"Oh, [it was] a big boom, a big boom!"

Resident Grant Mcinnes saw the tragic event unfold. 

"The two planes took off together, they climbed - I don't know how high - the one really climbed and the other one started to spin and then boom. I didn't see the pilot bail out but he bailed out late apparently."

The Snowbirds were supposed to fly over the Thompson-Okanagan region this morning but due to the weather advisory they cancelled their flight

The Snowbirds had been making a cross-country tour to lift the spirits of Canadians during the pandemic.

*This story has been updated since first being published

gwood@glaciermedia.ca

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