May 31, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Canadians awakened this morning to tragic news; in the early morning hours, an Ornge air ambulance helicopter went down en route from Moosonee to Attawapiskat.
All four occupants, including Flight Paramedics Dustin Dagenais and Chris Snowball (members of CAW Local 2002) and their colleagues Captain Don Filliter and First Officer Jacques Dupuy lost their lives while trying to save others.
"Today’s accident is tragic in every way," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "These brave individuals put their lives on the line every day for the well-being of others. The thoughts and prayers of all CAW members are with the Dagenais and Snowball families on this day, as well as with the Filliter and Dupuy families."
CAW Local 2002 Executive Vice President Don Ross said that nothing can prepare the union for this sort of devastating news.
"These people are heroes. They know the risks are high and yet they willingly put themselves in harm's way whenever a call for help comes," Ross said. "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of these workers who gave their lives while trying to save others – they were our family and friends too."
Lewenza has offered Ornge CEO Dr. Andrew McCallum the CAW’s full support and co-operation in the investigation of the accident. Lewenza also encouraged Dr. McCallum and Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi to utilize the knowledge and expertise of the Joint Health and Safety Committee.
In correspondence to union leadership earlier today, Lewenza pledged the union’s support to the families of the victims.
"As flight paramedics, this is the news we may imagine but we never want to hear," said CAW/Ornge District 344 Chairperson Chuck Telky.
"I urge the membership of Ornge to stay strong and united on this incredibly sad day. We need to be there for the families of our fallen co-workers and for each other."