Family of pilot who survived Snowbirds crash thanks Kamloops for outpouring of support

The family of the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds pilot who survived a deadly crash in Kamloops, B.C., is thanking the community for its outpouring of support.

Capt. Richard MacDougall is recovering in hospital from serious but non-life threatening injuries he suffered when his CT-114 Tutor jet plummeted into a residential neighbourhood shortly after taking off from Kamloops Airport on May 17.

MacDougall and Capt. Jennifer Casey both ejected from the aircraft before it crashed, but Casey did not survive.

READ MORE: ‘She will never be forgotten’: Snowbirds crash victim’s family releases statement

On Thursday, MacDougall’s mother Paulette Richard and stepfather Jake Bell, who travelled from their home in Dieppe, N.B., after the crash, visited a memorial at the airport that has continued to grow in the wake of the crash in honour of Casey, MacDougall and the Snowbirds team.

“It really warms our heart to see that everyone has come out to embrace the organization during this difficult time,” Bell said.

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“We wanted to thank everyone for all of their support and all of their love and all of their goodwill towards our family.”

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Bell also offered the family’s condolences to Casey’s family.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has said MacDougall is expected to recover from his injuries.

MacDougall and Casey, the Snowbirds’ public relations officer, were taking part in Operation Inspiration, a cross-country tour of flyovers intended to boost morale during the coronavirus pandemic.

The team was set to wrap up the tour in B.C. the day of the crash.

READ MORE: Thousands tune in to watch Snowbirds ceremony in Kamloops, B.C.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined. An investigation into what went wrong is being conducted by the military and is expected to take several weeks.

Thursday also saw a ceremony to honour Casey and MacDougall at the Kamloops airport, where a fence has been covered with Canadian flags, flowers and written messages of thanks and condolences.

Organizers said roughly 90,000 people watched a livestream of the ceremony, which was forced to limit attendance due to coronavirus concerns.

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—With files from CFJC News and the Canadian Press

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