NEWFOUNDLAND — The mayor of a small town in southern Newfoundland which had been home to two of the 17 people killed in last week’s offshore helicopter crash said the full impact of the tragedy has yet to arrive.
Fortune Mayor Alec Noseworthy said developments in the crash of the Cougar Helicopters aircraft have been dominating everyone’s thoughts, especially as they attended church services on Sunday.
Two men from Fortune — Wade Drake, 42, and Burch Nash, 44 — were on the helicopter when it crashed after its crew reported a mayday and serious mechanical problems.
Noseworthy said as sorrowful as residents have been, the deepest hurt may yet be to come.
“I guess the realization hasn’t really hit yet because of the — you know, now that the bodies are just being recovered, or some of the bodies,” Noseworthy told CBC News Sunday.
“[Until] the relatives get home and memorial services start, it hasn’t really hit the town.”
On Monday morning, recovery crews brought the bodies of nine unidentified persons to St. John’s, after they were taken from the sunken fuselage of the helicopter.
The chopper had been transporting 16 workers to their jobs aboard platforms at two oilfields off Newfoundland’s east coast when the helicopter ran into trouble. The helicopter’s crew said they were turning around and heading back to St. John’s, although the chopper crashed minutes later.
The loss — the worst in the offshore oil industry since the Ocean Ranger drilling rig toppled and sank during a vicious storm in February 1982, killing all 84 aboard — has devastated many people in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Of the 14 deceased passengers who have been identified so far, all but three lived in the province.
People want to do something
Carmen Francis, who chairs the local service district in tiny Sibley’s Cove — where passenger Corey Eddy, 32, had lived before moving to the St. John’s area — said people simply want to do something meaningful in the face of overwhelming sadness.
“I feel sorry for the family. Everyone feels that way, and they want to send cards or they want to do something,” Francis said.
Eddy most recently had lived in Paradise, a suburban town outside St. John’s.
Mayor Ralph Wiseman said the crash has had a great impact, as so many residents either work directly in the offshore oil industry or have ties to it.
“The whole town of Paradise is a very young, vibrant town,” said Wiseman, who has a son who works in the oil industry.
“We have everybody who in some way is connected to the offshore … It’s very touching, because to have this to happen is just unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, RCMP on Monday identified the name of the helicopter’s pilot. Capt. Matthew William Thomas Davis, 34, lived in St. John’s.
Most of the other deceased lived in Newfoundland and Labrador, with two living in other provinces. The names released by the RCMP so far are:
Corey Eddy, 32, of Paradise, formerly of Sibley’s Cove.
John Pelley, 41, of Deer Lake.
Tim Lanouette, 48, Comox, B.C., the first officer on the helicopter.
Peter Breen, 55, St. John’s.
Gary Corbett, 46, Conception Bay South.
Wade Drake, 42, Fortune.
Wade Duggan, 32, Witless Bay.
Colin Henley, 38, St. John’s.
Ken MacRae, 47, Greenwood, N.S.
Derrick Mullowney, 51, Bay Bulls.
Burch Nash, 44, Fortune.
Paul Pike, 49, Spaniard’s Bay.
Allison Maher, 26, Mount Pearl, formerly of Aquaforte.
Thomas Anwyll, 46, Langley, B.C.
The families of the remaining two passengers who are presumed deceased have not yet given their consent to releasing their names, police said.
A funeral for Maher, whose body was recovered shortly after Thursday morning’s crash, was set for Monday morning in Fermeuse, near where she grew up.