City unveils plans for tribute to Capt. Jenn Casey, one year after deadly Snowbirds crash in Brocklehurst

Casey memorial in park

UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

Fulton Field Park — a proposed city park space and home to a permanent memorial to fallen Snowbirds Capt. Jenn Casey — will serve as a place to reflect on Casey’s life and legacy, according to the Kamloops mayor.

In a press conference on Monday, Mayor Ken Christian said the park will be a place to celebrate Kamloops’ connection to Casey, as well as the Snowbirds and other military members who have served.

“It is our hope that Fulton Field Park becomes a part of that healing process,” Christian said.

“A place to reflect on the intent of Operation Inspiration and the intent of lifting a nation up at a time it needed lifting.”

On May 17, 2020, the Snowbirds jet Casey was in was struck by a bird upon takeoff, causing the aircraft’s engine to fail.

Casey and pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall ejected from the plane and fell on a property on Schreiner Street, resulting in Casey’s death. MacDougall suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash.

The accident took place during Operation Inspiration, an effort spearheaded by Casey that meant to bring joy to Canadians during the first wave of COVID-19.

The memorial park will be located on Tranquille Road, between Airport Road and Aviation Way, close to runway 0927, where the Snowbirds took off.

The park is still in the design phase, but Christian said it will have a low profile due to its proximity to the airport. He said there will be benches and low shrubbery, and the design will feature military colours.

“We will at this park have curated story boards. It’ll be an interpretive park that will talk about the history of Fulton Field. It will go on to talk about the Snowbirds and their importance as part of a Canadian institution. And it'll talk about the 50th anniversary of the Snowbirds,” Christian said.

“Then, it will go on to talk about that fateful day and the life of Captain Casey and also Richard MacDougall who piloted Snowbird 11 on that day.”

Christian said design plans will be shared with the Snowbirds and Casey’s family for their input.

The park will be constructed as part of the Tranquille Road reconstruction and beautification project, and is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Capt. Scott Boyd, Casey’s partner, said the kindness shown by the Kamloops community was “absolutely incredible.”

“The city here will always be very special,” Boyd said.

A number of Casey’s friends were present at city hall Monday for the announcement.

Dan McDonald, a university friend of Casey, said the initiative to put a permanent memorial in place was touching.

McDonald said he felt it was important to share who Casey was, beyond her connection with the military.

“Obviously the military and the snowbirds was greatly important and she loved doing that. But she had a life before, and being able to bring some of those personal stories to the forefront and kind of further cementing what what she meant to us, to Nova Scotia and to the country,” McDonald said.

“Everything you guys hear is true. She was always smiling. She loved this country very much. And she was always proud of where she came from.”

ORIGINAL: 11:42 a.m.

A memorial to fallen Snowbirds Capt. Jenn Casey will rise near the Kamloops Airport, according to the city.

Plans for Fulton Field Park were unveiled on Monday by Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian, flanked by Capt. Scott Boyd, Casey’s partner, and two of her friends.

Casey died in a crash in Brocklehurst one year ago. On May 17, 2020, the Snowbirds jet she was in struck a bird on takeoff and crashed. Casey died and her pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, was injured.

“This was a tragedy that rocked our community to the core and an event that will remain a part of Kamloops history,” Christian said.

“The Brocklehurst neighbourhood was particularly affected, and we would like to honour the community, the Snowbirds, and Captain Jennifer Casey through curated memorials at Fulton Field Park. The park will be a place of observation, remembrance, and honour for the history of the Canadian military and the Snowbirds within our community.”

The park will be located on Tranquille Road between Airport Road and Aviation Way. It is currently in the design stage.

Plans include flower beds, pathways, bench seating and a tribute to Casey and the Snowbirds, as well as historical information about the airport and Kamloops’ connection to the military.

When last spring’s crash took place, the Snowbirds were in Kamloops as part of a cross-Canada tour aimed at raising spirits amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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