Canadian Armed Forces members missing after a helicopter accident off the coast of Greece, including a pilot from Nanaimo, are now presumed dead.
The Ministry of National Defence said in a press release Friday, May 1, that it is transitioning search-and-rescue efforts to search-and-recovery efforts.
According to a press release the day before, Capt. Kevin Hagen of Nanaimo was among those missing after Wednesday’s crash in the Mediterranean. The CH-148 Cyclone helicopter was on a NATO training mission in the Ionian Sea carrying six members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Abbigail Cowbrough, a sub-lieutenant from Toronto, was killed in the crash. The other five occupants presumed dead include Hagen, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald from New Glasgow, N.S.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin from Trois-Rivières, Que.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke from Truro, N.S.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, from Guelph.
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said in Thursday’s press release he was deeply saddened to learn of the incident and said search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing, with all available resources dedicated to the effort.
“This accident is a painful reminder of the dangers that members of Canada’s military face every day to ensure the safety and security of Canadians,” Sajjan said.
Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command, said in the release that Wednesday was a tragic day for Canada’s military family.
“I am profoundly saddened by this accident and I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of our fallen member and the five who remain missing,” he said.
The release notes that the helicopter was deployed with the HMCS Fredericton at sea and at the time of the incident was training with Italian and Turkish ships.
The ministry says a flight safety investigation will be conducted “to ensure our personnel can continue to have confidence in our equipment and procedures” and help to reduce the risk of such incidents happening again.