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Snowbirds crew member from Halifax killed in Kamloops crash, member from Dieppe, N.B., injured

Capt. Jennifer Casey of Halifax, the Snowbirds' public affairs officer, died in Sunday's crash in Kamloops, B.C. - Canadian Armed Forces
Capt. Jennifer Casey of Halifax, the Snowbirds' public affairs officer, died in Sunday's crash in Kamloops, B.C. - Canadian Armed Forces
KAMLOOPS, B.C. —

A jet from the Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds team that was on a national tour to lift spirits during the coronavirus outbreak crashed into a neighbourhood in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, killing one crew member.

An RCMP officer walks in front of the tail wreckage from a Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds jet after a member of the exhibition team crashed shortly after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C. Sunday.
An RCMP officer walks in front of the tail wreckage from a Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds jet after a member of the exhibition team crashed shortly after takeoff in Kamloops, B.C. Sunday.

Witnesses and officials said at least one person was injured when the plane crashed after the pilot ejected.

Kamloops is about 320 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

The plane had been carrying two crew members.  In a tweet, the Snowbirds squadron said the surviving crew member's injuries were not life-threatening. 

The Snowbirds identified the dead crew member as Capt. Jennifer Casey, the public affairs officer for the Snowbirds, who was from Halifax. 

Casey, who was a non-flying member of the team, is a graduate of the University of King's College journalism program and Dalhousie University. 

The team identified the injured pilot as Capt. Richard MacDougall, who is originally from  Dieppe, N.B. 

Capt. Richard MacDougall flew over Sackville, N.B., during the Snowbirds Maritime tour to thank the community where he was a member of the air cadets from 1998 to 2003. MacDougall is a member of the Snowbirds air demonstration team and is flying from coast to coast as part of Operation Inspiration. - MCpl Mathieu St-Amour, Canadian Forces Training and Development Centre, CFB Borden
Capt. Richard MacDougall flew over Sackville, N.B., during the Snowbirds Maritime tour to thank the community where he was a member of the air cadets from 1998 to 2003. MacDougall is a member of the Snowbirds air demonstration team and is flying from coast to coast as part of Operation Inspiration. - MCpl Mathieu St-Amour, Canadian Forces Training and Development Centre, CFB Borden

According to her Canadian Forces bio, Casey joined the Armed Forces in August 2014 as a direct-entry officer. Before that, she spent several years working in broadcast radio as a reporter, anchor and producer in Halifax and Belleville, Ont. 

She joined the Snowbirds in November 2018.

Officials at the Department of National Defence were not immediately available for comment.

"One individual was transported to hospital," British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Twitter. 

Video shot by a witness showed two of the team's Canadair Tutor single-engine jets taking off. One of the planes reared up almost immediately before plunging to the ground, exploding just after the pilot ejected.

A photo posted by Kamloops television station CFJC showed at least one house on fire in the Brocklehurst area of Kamloops, a city with a population of more than 90,000.

A plume of smoke rises over houses in Kamloops following a plane crash, in this image obtained from social media. - Twitter / MikeGT79  /via Reuters
A plume of smoke rises over houses in Kamloops following a plane crash, in this image obtained from social media. - Twitter / MikeGT79 /via Reuters

Federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a tweet that he was deeply saddened by the news.

The crash was the second recent accident involving the Snowbirds. One of the team's jets crashed into an unpopulated area last October before a show in Atlanta, after the pilot ejected.  

With files from The Chronicle Herald. 

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