Search for Canadian military members in fatal helicopter crash turns to recovery operation

May 1 2020, 11:07 am

After the members missing in the fatal NATO helicopter crash off the coast of Greece on Wednesday were identified by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), yesterday, officials said the search efforts have officially turned into a recovery mission.

On Thursday, the military confirmed that 23-year-old Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Maritime Systems Engineering Officer originally from Toronto, was killed in the crash.

Then, in a statement on Friday morning, CAF said the search and rescue efforts of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) had officially, fully transitioned into search and recovery efforts.

“The missing five members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially considered missing and presumed deceased,” the CAF said.

Those members are:

  • Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Pilot, originally from New Glasgow, NS
  • Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot, originally from Nanaimo, BC
  • Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer, originally from Trois-Rivières, QB.
  • Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer, originally from Truro, NS.
  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, originally from Guelph, Ont.

“Additional remains have been discovered during the search, but cannot be identified at this time,” said the CAF, noting that officials will be doing “everything possible over the next several days to confirm known details with the families.”

The CAF said NATO allies will be continuing recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy. The ship is expected to arrive the morning of May 2, local time.

In addition, an RCAF Flight Safety team will depart Canada on Friday to investigate the circumstances of the accident.

“They will begin their work immediately upon arrival,” the CAF said.

The helicopter was deployed with HMCS Fredericton in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 under Operation Reassurance.

At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships. The Cyclone was conducting concurrent flight operations.

In response to the incident, Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the incident.

“I wish to express my deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing with our NATO Allies for the five missing members and all available resources are being dedicated to this effort,” he said in a statement.

“The accident, he added, “is a painful reminder of the dangers that members of Canada’s military face every day to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.”