Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed this morning that one Canadian military member is dead, and five others are currently still missing after a NATO naval task force helicopter crashed in waters between Greece and Italy Wednesday night.
The body of the crew member was recovered from debris from the crash, though searches for the helicopter itself are still underway.
The first victim was identified by her parents as Abbigail Cowbrough, a 23-year-old marine system engineering officer from Nova Scotia.
“I am broken and gutted,” Shane Cowbrough, Abigail’s father wrote in a Facebook post.
“Today I lost my oldest daughter Abbigail Cowbrough in the crash involving the Cyclone from HMCS Fredericton. There are no words. You made me forever proud. I will love you always, and miss you in every moment. You are the bright light in my life taken far too soon.”
Aboard the helicopter were four Royal Canadian Air Force members and two Royal Canadian Navy members.
“All of them are heroes. Each of them will leave a void that cannot be filled,” Trudeau said.
The helicopter was based on HMCS Fredericton which had recently sailed from Souda, Greece, as part of a mission of maritime situational awareness in the Mediterranean.
This included exercises with the Turkish Navy and Greece’s Hellenic Navy and Air Force this past week.
As the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter is still currently missing, aircraft from Canada, Italy and Turkey are carrying out search operations with additional support from Greece and the U.S., according to NATO.
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cyclone helicopters generally carry a crew of four, including two pilots, a tactical operator and a sensor operator with space for several passengers.
They are primarily based on naval vessels and used for hunting submarines, surveillance and search and rescue.