Two Burin Penin­sula men go down on Cougar he­li­copter 911

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE BARTLETT & PAUL HER­RIDGE

The St. Pa­trick’s Day week­end is gen­er­ally joy­ous on the South­ern Shore, but af­ter Thurs­day’s tragic he­li­copter crash, there will be mourn­ing, not mer­ri­ment, in the area rich in Ir­ish her­itage.

Bay Bulls Mayor Don Drew said Fri­day af­ter­noon “The com­mu­nity is in just a co­matose state.

“Not just the com­mu­nity of Bay Bulls, the whole South­ern Shore. … From the Goulds to Cap­pa­hay­den to Trepassey, there’s not too many fam­i­lies that haven’t been touched by this one.”

It’s thought be­tween six and eight peo­ple from the large but close- knit re­gion could have been among the 18 peo­ple on­board Cougar He­li­copters Flight 911.

Mr. Drew said only one of them hailed from Bay Bulls, and he knew the man very well.

The South­ern Shore might turn out to be the re­gion hit hard­est by the tragedy, but the en­tire prov­ince was hurt­ing from the crash.

The town of For­tune on the Burin Penin­sula is among the places that will need re­silience.

It was also shaken, as two men closely con­nected to the com­mu­nity are said to have been on the he­li­copter.

One is a cur­rent res­i­dent and fa­ther of two young girls. The other was reared in For­tune, but moved away. He is also a fa­ther, and his par­ents still re­side in For­tune.

For­tune Mayor Alec Nose­wor­thy said there was gloom in the com­mu­nity, and there were sad con­ver­sa­tions ev­ery­where he went Fri­day af­ter­noon. “It’s bad ac­tu­ally, a real bad scene.” Grand Bank MHA Darin King called Thurs­day a sad day for the prov­ince and a sad day for the penin­sula.

Two of the miss­ing men had con­nec­tions to Mr. King’s home­town of For­tune.

“I don’t think there’s any­body that would not have felt this in some­way or an­other, whether it’s be­cause they’re con­nected to the cur­rent tragedy or it brings back mem­o­ries of a tragedy from days gone by that af­fected their fam­ily.

“It’s a tough thing to get through and cer­tainly my heart and my pray­ers go out for all the fam­i­lies.”

Burin-Pla­cen­tia West MHA Clyde Jack­man also of­fered his thoughts and pray­ers to the in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies af­fected by the crash.

He sug­gested the re­gion’s con­nec­tion to the ves­sel ( SeaRose FPSO), where most of those on board the he­li­copter were headed, made the event all the more real.

Fabri­ca­tion work on the ship was com­pleted in Marys­town just a few years ago.

“The thing that struck me is that the penin­sula has been in­volved in the oil in­dus­try very much on the constructi­on side.

“We have peo­ple who work off­shore. When you hear that one of the stops that th­ese peo­ple were go­ing to make was on the ‘SeaRose FPSO’ it brings that even closer to home then.”

It was un­known at press time how many aboard the flight were from St. John’s, but sur­vivor Robert Decker is from the cap­i­tal city.

St. John’s Mayor Den­nis O’Keefe of­fered his con­do­lences to ev­ery- one af­fected.

“Marine dis­as­ters like this one re­mind us of our in­nate tie to the sea and our tenac­ity to op­er­ate in harsh weather en­vi­ron­ments.

“Re­silience has brought us to where we are to­day, and re­silience will guide us again in fu­ture.”

Mr. Drew es­ti­mated 30 per cent of the peo­ple on the South­ern Shore work in the oil in­dus­try, ei­ther off New­found­land or else­where in the world.

He fig­ured an­other 35 per cent are em­ployed in dif­fer­ent as­pects of the fish­ery.

With such a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion mak­ing a liv­ing from the wa­ter, the soft-spo­ken mayor seemed to ex­pect the tragedy would res­onate with many, and no doubt for a lot of week­ends to come.

“Ev­ery fam­ily, our kids and all, is af­fected.”

St. John’s Tele­gram

For­tune Mayor Alec Nose­wor­thy de­scribed the mood in his town Fri­day as “It’s bad ac­tu­ally, a real bad scene.”

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