Advertisement

CF Snowbirds team member killed in crash remembered as ‘sunshine’: Alberta airshow producer

Click to play video 'Capt. Jenn Casey remembered as ‘sunshine’ by colleague' Capt. Jenn Casey remembered as ‘sunshine’ by colleague
WATCH: Condolences are pouring in for Captain Jennifer Casey as people who worked with the CF snowbird team member are sharing what kind of woman she was. Lauren Pullen reports. – May 18, 2020

An Albertan airshow producer is remembering the woman killed after a plane with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration team crashed in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday as a positive person with a passion for the industry.

The Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed that 35-year-old Capt. Jennifer Casey, the team’s public affairs officer from Halifax, N.S., was killed in the crash.

READ MORE: CF Snowbirds team member killed in crash in Kamloops, B.C.

Sarah Van Gilst with Wings Over Springbank Airshow said she knew Casey for about three years, describing her as “sunshine” in an interview with Global News.

“She was a really joyful person to be around,” she said with her voice breaking.

“She was very efficient at her job and had a real passion for the industry. So she kind of got what we always call the air show bug,” Van Gilst said, noting that she expected to see Casey involved for many years to come.

Story continues below advertisement

“Once you get involved in this industry, it tends to grab hold of your heartstrings.”

Capt. Jennifer Casey, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, was killed in a plane crash in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, May 17, 2020.
Capt. Jennifer Casey, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, was killed in a plane crash in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, May 17, 2020. Courtesy: Royal Canadian Air Force

Van Gilst, who has been in the airshow industry since 2008, explained that it is a small, tight-knit community.

“We tend to know each other for a lot of years. Colleagues become friends and friends become family, so it’s hitting us all very personally right now,” she said.

READ MORE: A timeline of Canadian Snowbirds fatalities since 1972

Casey joined the RCAF in 2014 and the Snowbirds in 2018. Before that, she worked as a radio reporter, producer and anchor, according to her biography.

Capt. Jennifer Casey, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, was killed in a crash in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, May 17, 2020.
Capt. Jennifer Casey, public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, was killed in a crash in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, May 17, 2020. Courtesy: Scott Simpson

The fatal crash is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking, Van Gilst said.

Story continues below advertisement
“Beyond just sort of the [Snowbirds] demonstration team being the teamwork that they are, safety is so important for them. So with something like this happening, it’s really shocking just to think that it could happen this way,” she said.
Click to play video 'Investigation underway into CF Snowbirds crash in B.C.' Investigation underway into CF Snowbirds crash in B.C.
Investigation underway into CF Snowbirds crash in B.C – May 18, 2020

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were on Operation Inspiration, a cross-country tour to “lift the spirits of Canadians and salute front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Department of National Defence.

“They’re going out there to try and bring some joy and some excitement to people. It’s certainly shaken a lot of us,” Van Gilst said.

The operation has been delayed indefinitely, the department said.

Story continues below advertisement

The RCAF said Capt. Richard MacDougall was injured in the crash.

Click to play video 'Alberta aviation community mourns loss of passionate CF Snowbird team member' Alberta aviation community mourns loss of passionate CF Snowbird team member
Alberta aviation community mourns loss of passionate CF Snowbird team member – May 18, 2020