20TH AN­NIVER­SARY

Swis­sair 111

Truro Daily News - - Front Page -

Twenty years later, peo­ple who were called to duty in the wake of an air dis­as­ter that left a last­ing im­pres­sion and touched the hearts of Nova Sco­tians, re­call that fate­ful day in Septem­ber.

“I don’t talk about the grue­some de­tails that we saw – that’s just sort of some­thing you keep to your­self and bot­tle up in­side your­self and that’s why I had to go reach out for help be­cause keep­ing it all in­side wasn’t a good idea. I got af­fected by PTSD over this… Yes, it was grue­some, but you don’t re­al­ize how grue­some it is un­til you get back to your own world and that’s when it slowly, over time, starts to eat at you.” – Re­tired Chief War­rant Of­fi­cer Art Davis of Syd­ney was with the med­i­cal unit at CFB Shear­wa­ter at the time of the crash.

“I saw wives and chil­dren griev­ing for hus­bands and fa­thers, and par­ents griev­ing for their daugh­ter or son. Ev­ery­one had a story to tell. As vol­un­teers, our role was to lis­ten.

“One lady con­fided that she was to be mar­ried in six weeks and her fi­ancé was on that plane. She sat at the sea­side writ­ing mes­sages on seashells and plac­ing them in the water. This was her way of say­ing good­bye. One fa­ther and mother told me that they had given this trip to their son as a grad­u­a­tion gift.” – Des­mond Dil­lon of Gan­der, N.L., was a Red Cross vol­un­teer who was as­signed to as­sist fam­i­lies of the vic­tims as they gath­ered along the shore­line.

“( The air­line com­pany) had it set up with ground search and res­cue peo­ple, with bar­ri­cades all around on the rocks, and they ba­si­cally chan­neled groups of fam­i­lies down and we, as chap­lains, went with them be­cause they were afraid that some­one could – in the emo­tion of the mo­ment – jump off the rocks. That was a con­cern, so there were ground search and res­cue peo­ple who were on teth­ers to re­spond if that hap­pened… ( The mem­o­ries are) just like press­ing the re­play but­ton. You can take your­self back to var­i­ous scenes from down there. One of those ex­pe­ri­ences is more than enough in a life­time. It was pretty trau­matic.” – Rev. A.D. (Bill) Newell of Yar­mouth who was one of the RCMP chap­lains at the scene of the crash.

“At first the sea of­fered noth­ing out of the or­di­nary. Then there were bits and pieces. Small de­bris float­ing on the sur­face, mostly un­rec­og­niz­able – pa­per and plas­tics I sup­pose. The first thing I thought I could rec­og­nize was what looked maybe like a foam shoul­der pad, per­haps from a woman’s blouse. Maybe not. You knew the frag­ments had be­longed to some­one. They bobbed in the black waves.” – Brad Works, now man­ag­ing edi­tor for the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer in Sum­mer­side, was on scene the day af­ter the crash, cov­er­ing the event as a free­lance jour­nal­ist.

“The days af­ter­ward will stick with me the most. Bus­load af­ter bus­load of lit­er­ally hun­dreds of grief-stricken, shat­tered rel­a­tives of the pas­sen­gers and crew, com­ing to stare out to sea, try­ing to make some sense of it. They stood on the same rocks, ear­lier fre­quented by so many trav­ellers on a pleas­ant hol­i­day. Some of them threw flow­ers into the sea. They hud­dled, em­braced each other and re­turned to their bus, only to be re­placed with more grief-stricken peo­ple. “One woman, es­corted by Red Cross, handed her in­fant to one vol­un­teer and tried throw­ing her­self into the sea, but vol­un­teers quickly stopped her and took her into care.” – Tim Krochak, a mul­ti­me­dia jour­nal­ist with The Chron­i­cle Her­ald, who cov­ered the events on the days fol­low­ing the crash.

“One of the things we wanted to do too was re­cover any per­sonal ef­fects. (For ex­am­ple) there was a wed­ding al­bum. That was one of the things that, I think, re­ally af­fected some mem­bers of the team, es­pe­cially one par­tic­u­lar mem­ber who just, the day af­ter the crash, had left for his hon­ey­moon. I re­mem­ber a year later in Sheet Har­bour (as part of the crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion), one of the things that was found was a wed­ding ring with an en­graved in­scrip­tion and I can only imag­ine how valu­able that would be to the spouse that was left be­hind, to have some­thing tan­gi­ble to re­mem­ber her loved one by.” – Gil Dares of Yar­mouth was an RCMP of­fi­cer and vol­un­teer who par­tic­i­pated in the re­cov­ery ef­forts.

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