A memorial pays respect to the victims of a military helicopter crash, at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S., home of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, on Friday, May 1, 2020. A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise as in the Mediterranean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A memorial pays respect to the victims of a military helicopter crash, at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S., home of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, on Friday, May 1, 2020. A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise as in the Mediterranean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

More remains found as Canadian helicopter search turns to recovery near Greece

The search for five Canadians service members had formally turned into ‘search and recovery efforts’

After scouring a littered seascape with its NATO allies, a Canadian Forces warship formally ended its search for survivors Friday after its maritime helicopter crashed off the coast of Greece.

The search for five lost crew in the Wednesday Cyclone helicopter crash formally ended after three days, the Canadian Forces said.

Six military personnel were aboard the helicopter when it went down in the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to the Halifax-based frigate, HMCS Fredericton.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” Rear Admiral Craig Baines, the commander of the navy’s maritime command, told reporters on a windswept pier in Halifax.

The Fredericton, as well as Turkish, Italian, Greek ships, helicopters and planes, thoroughly searched the area for survivors and came up short, he said.

“While searches on the sea are never easy, these units have completely saturated the area for the duration of the search over a known crash location,” said Baines. ”So we are certain that if there were survivors, we would have found them within the past 48 hours.”

Baines confirmed the search for five Canadians service members had formally turned into ”search and recovery efforts” instead of a rescue effort. The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough was previously recovered from the wreckage.

The Forces said it also recovered the remains believed to be those of people aboard the helicopter but they can’t yet be identified. Baines said Italian and Turkish ships are remaining at the scene of the accident to assist with recovery operations for at least the next 48 hours.

The helicopter was part of the Fredericton’s NATO mission when it went down while concluding a training exercise.

The Fredericton was bound for an Italian port and was expected to arrive Saturday. The crew planned to hold a vigil for their lost comrades.

“Upon arrival in Italy the ship will transfer the remains to our team on the ground who will facilitate their return to Canada via Canadian military airlift,” Baines said. “The remains of our fallen will be brought home next week.”

Baines said Fredericton’s crew would remain in Italy for several days before returning to resume its role in the NATO mission.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all Canadians were mourning the loss of six military members.

“Every day these brave Canadians in uniform put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country and our citizens safe, and together we will honour their service to Canada and our closest allies,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“I also thank our NATO allies who worked side by side with members of our Armed Forces to search for the fallen.”

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, said it was a “particularly difficult” situation for the families of those who died.

“What makes this all the more difficult to bear is our inability — thus far — to recover all of our fallen comrades,” Vance said Friday in his weekly letter to troops.

Vance said an investigation would hopefully find the cause of the crash.

“In the meantime, we grieve.”

The Canadian military also sent a flight investigation team to the region to determine the cause of the crash.

The Cyclone’s flight-data and voice recorders have been recovered after they broke away from the helicopter when it crashed and will soon be returned to Canada for analysis.

The missing Canadian servicemen have been identified as Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald of New Glasgow, N.S.; Capt. Kevin Hagen of Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin from Trois-Rivieres, Que.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke from Truro, N.S.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins from Guelph, Ont.

“These proud military members died heroes, and we will always remember them,” said Col. James Hawthorne, the commander of 12 Wing Shearwater, the Cyclone’s base.

“To the families of these members, remember that we are here to support you — you are part of the military family and now we are in service to you.”

Hawthorne descried MacDonald as a “proud father in a house full of boys” and one of three military siblings.

MacDonald was a “natural in all respects,” said Kevin A. MacDonald, a Halifax lawyer who knew the missing pilot when he was a teenager in the Air Cadets. The two MacDonalds are not related.

Kevin MacDonald was an instructor and operations officer at the school, and says he met Brenden when he moved on to take his pilot’s license in 2002.

“You don’t get to where he did without being a quick study in all respects, not only in terms of technical aptitude but also in terms of academics. You can tell usually within the first flight or two whether or not they are going to stick with it and whether or not they are going to go on to greater things, and he was destined for what he was doing.”

Kyle Hagen described his brother, Kevin as the ”perfect brother” to he and his sister.

“He’s been a shining example of truth, duty and valour for us. We’ve been proud of him our whole lives, he’s been my closest friend, and I can’t describe how hard his loss has been for us,” he said in a Facebook message.

“The military community and representatives have been compassionate and professional, and I’m sorry to Kevin’s brothers- and sisters-in-arms for this awful loss.”

Miron-Morin dreamed of serving in the Forces since he was a teenaged cadet, and became an air combat systems operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, said Hawthorne.

Cousins was “an outstanding aviator who kept the officers of his crew in line and focused on the mission, said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne said Pyke and Cowbrough were “brothers- and sisters-in-arms” as well as friends.

Mike Blanchfield and Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Permission to develop a residential treatment centre providing mental health and addiction recovery is being sought at the Tachick Lake Resort purchased by Carrier Sekani Family Services. (Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako photo)
Treatment centre eyed at former Tachick Lake Resort near Vanderhoof

Carrier Sekani Family Services awaiting adoption of rezoning bylaw

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

The North Country Inn and Restaurant in Vanderhoof notified the public Friday morning of a positive, COVID-19 case for one of its workers. (Facebook photo)
North Country Inn and Restaurant employee tests positive for COVID-19

The North Country Inn and Restaurant said the employee had not been in contact with its patrons

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read