The impact of Sunday’s Snowbirds crash in Kamloops, B.C., which killed the team’s public relations officer, is reverberating through the Saskatchewan city where the team is based.
The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“She was extremely professional in what she was doing and she always had a smile on her face,” said Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tomlie, who called her death a tragic loss.
“Our community feels that loss.
“We can only say that we’re grateful for her service and we’re grateful to her family for letting us have her for a short time.”
Those who worked with Casey in the community are mourning her death, including Jackie L’Heureux-Mason, who met with Casey in her position as the executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw.
L’Heureux-Mason said Casey was helping build a relationship with the city.
“She was always really good at her job,” L’Heureux-Mason recalled.
“She knew what she was talking about. She had a personality that was catching and you were able to ask her any questions you wanted to and you always felt like she was hearing you.”
The Snowbirds have called 15 Wing Moose Jaw home since its inception in the early 1970s.
Tomlie said the team has woven a tapestry in the community, with pilots and ground crew calling Moose Jaw home.
“We have got a close relationship with them and I would say they are part of our family,” said Tomlie, who spent seven years as an officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“They mean a lot to us and they inspire us daily when they fly over our city and we know that they’re there to inspire the rest of Canada.
“There’ll be times where I’m in my office and working away and you hear them flying over the city and it’s a comforting feeling.”
Although the team is part of Moose Jaw’s history, Tomlie said the Snowbirds resonate with Canadians across the country.
“They really, truly emulate the true Canadian character and the true Canadian spirit,” he said.
“In the air and on the ground, they really are showing the Canadian values of who we are.”
L’Heureux-Mason said that extends to seeing them around the community.
“You want to talk about a source of pride. You’re just sitting there enjoying a drink and you see the red jumpsuits walk in and it’s pretty cool,” she said.
“When you’re lucky enough to live in Moose Jaw, they become a really big part of who you are.”
A memorial to Casey is growing outside of Tourism Moose Jaw, where a Tutor is on display outside the building.
“I came up here this morning with some flowers and a flag just because I think I’m feeling what everyone else is feeling here in our hometown,” said Coun. Crystal Froese.
“I’ve watched lots of people come up and stop and walk around the Tutor and look at it and take some pictures. I think people are really feeling, just a need now, more than ever to try to connect and try to show their support.”
L’Heureux-Mason said it gives locals not only a chance to pay their respects to Casey, but also to the Snowbirds.
“This might be a nice opportunity to use the Tutor that we are so proud of here as a memorial for Capt. Casey, to be able to show how proud we are of the team and send a lot of love to her family,” she said.
“This can be a place where people can come and have some connection with Capt. Casey and with the Snowbirds.”
And support all team members, Tomlie said.
“We can take this opportunity to show them our gratitude and rally around them and let them know that we care and love them very much,” he said.
“We’re thinking about them and that our thoughts and prayers are with them right now at this time.”
— Global News’ Roberta Bell contributed to this story.