Leaders commemorate victims on one year anniversary of Cougar Flight 491 tragedy

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams today expressed the deep sorrow that remains in the hearts of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and all Canadians, in remembering the victims of Cougar Flight 491 that crashed off the province's shores one year ago today on March 12, 2009.
"March 12 marks a sad day in our province's history, one of profound tragedy that shook our entire province and changed countless lives forever," Williams said.
"Our sincerest thoughts remain with the families and friends who continue to mourn the unimaginable loss they experienced on this day one year ago. I pray they find comfort through knowing these 17 precious lives will not be forgotten and will remain in our memories, in our hearts and in our prayers forever."
Cougar Flight 491 went down while transporting workers to two offshore platforms. Seventeen of the 18 people onboard died when the chopper plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean. There was one lone survivor, Robert Decker.
Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael also recognized the one-year anniversary of the crash of Cougar Flight 491.
"This tragedy will forever have an impact on our province, and like the Ocean Ranger it will always be remembered," Jones said.
"The current inquiry into offshore safety will bring forward recommendations on how to improve worker safety and we can only hope that every possible effort will be made to ensure a similar tragedy doesn't happen again.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of those affected by this tragedy. I also want to recognize the courage and insight provided by the lone survivor, Robert Decker, as he continues to deal with the aftermath of this experience. Today's anniversary will be very emotional and we will again remember the grief that was experienced within our province one year ago."
Michael said it is hard to imagine that a full year has passed since the tragedy.
"A year later the memories of that fateful day are still fresh in the minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," Michael said. "Today, my heart is with the families and friends of those who died in the tragedy and wish for them continued strength as they heal from their profound emotional loss.
"We must consider, too, the women and men who continue to fly offshore on a daily basis to work on the many oil facilities or in other industries on the unforgiving ocean. We must ensure that everything is done to provide the safest working environment possible."
Michael says she is committed to pursuing safety improvements for the offshore and trusts in the work of Commissioner Robert Wells as he continues phase two of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry.

Organizations: Cougar Flight 491

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Atlantic Ocean

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