RCAF Search and Rescue technician dies in training accident in Saskatchewan
Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017 10:57PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 9, 2017 7:56PM EST
A Royal Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue technician has died in a training accident near Yorkton, Sask.
Master Cpl. Alfred Barr died during training Wednesday, according to the RCAF. He was a member of 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron based in Winnipeg.
"The RCAF's Directorate of Flight Safety will be investigating the accident and no further information will be released about the incident while that is ongoing," the military said in a statement.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan called Barr "one of Canada’s finest Search and Rescue Technicians."
"Having had the privilege to meet with members of the Search and Rescue Community, I appreciate the risks they take, day in and day out, in fair and bad weather, to come to the aid of Canadians in peril," he said. This is exactly what Master Corporal Barr was preparing for today."
The commander of 17 Wing Winnipeg, Col. Andy Cook, also expressed his condolences to Barr's family, friends and fellow service members.
"Master Cpl. Barr was a valuable member of 435 Squadron's Search and Rescue team, and he will be deeply missed," he said.
The military says becoming a SAR Tech is highly competitive and only about 16 candidates are chosen from dozens of applicants to attend an 11-month training course.
Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance released a statement extending his sympathies to Barr’s family and friends and the Search and Rescue community.
“Every year, our Search and Rescue Squadrons and Technicians conduct thousands of daring exercises and real-life missions to keep Canadians safe,” he said.
“This is not easy work. Today’s loss is a reflection of that selflessness that characterizes their profession, as told in their motto: That others may live.”
Barr's death is the second deadly training accident in less than six months in Saskatchewan.
In November, Capt. Thomas McQueen died during a training mission near the Alberta–Saskatchewan border.
McQueen was taking part in an exercise which involved dropping simulated bombs over the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range when he went to manoeuvre his plane away from the debris of simulated bomb fragmentation. The aircraft hit the ground.
It's also the second death in just over two years of a Canadian Forces member who was part of the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
Search and Rescue technician Sgt. Mark Salesse died in 2015, after being buried under snow during an exercise in Banff National Park.
Salesse's death led to a military inquiry that recommended that Search and Rescue technicians update their mountain rescue training skills every year.
With files from the Canadian Press