The citizens of Kamloops, along with residents of every community in Canada, are grieving the loss of fallen Snowbird Capt. Jennifer Casey.
A makeshift memorial at Kamloops Airport has grown significantly in the last day following Casey’s death on Sunday.
She had been in the cockpit of a Snowbirds aircraft when it suddenly went down shortly after taking off from Kamloops. The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, lived, but Casey died after the two ejected from the falling jet.
It’s not yet known why the jet crashed so quickly, but a team of military investigators arrived Monday.
The Snowbirds were on a cross-country tour that was titled Operation Inspiration. That tour, which was announced in late April and began early May in Atlantic Canada, has been cancelled.
On Tuesday, many area residents could be seen at the growing memorial.
Asked about the outpouring of grief, local resident Louie Lindley said, “Kamloops really cares about this. It really brought a lot of people together.”
Global News also spoke to two veterans about Sunday’s fatal incident.
Air Force ground crew veteran Burt Humphrey said he went to the airport to watch the Snowbirds and Operation Inspiration, only to see the plane go down and the two pilots eject.
“It’s really sad to see what happened, especially in Kamloops,” said Humphrey, “or anywhere in Canada, anywhere in the world. Sad. Terribly sad.”
Adding to the memorial was the Army, Navy and Air Force veterans organization (ANAVETS).
“We feel it was fitting for a service organization like the ANAVETS to honour a fallen comrade who lost their life in the performance of duty,” said ANAVETS spokesperson Gordon Marsh.
“Kamloops is one of the areas that the Snowbirds frequent. They land here, they’ve performed here, and there’s a very close feeling with them. Hopefully they’ll recover and get their planes flying again.”
Marsh called the crash tragic and disheartening, “and the feelings of the people of Kamloops, as well as the veterans, is … just shocked and traumatized by what happened.”
“It’s only a block away from my home, actually.”
Marsh said he wasn’t home when the jet crashed into a local residence, adding he was at the airport watching the Snowbirds take off at the time.
“It’s very tragic and, as I said, traumatizing, especially being so close to home. It’s heartbreaking.”