12 years after Cougar crash, N.L. pays respects to lives lost

A memorial wreath pinned to the fence near the Cougar hangar in St. John's marks the anniversary of the Cougar Flight 491 crash.  (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
A memorial wreath pinned to the fence near the Cougar hangar in St. John's marks the anniversary of the Cougar Flight 491 crash. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
A memorial wreath pinned to the fence near the Cougar hangar in St. John's marks the anniversary of the Cougar Flight 491 crash.
A memorial wreath pinned to the fence near the Cougar hangar in St. John's marks the anniversary of the Cougar Flight 491 crash. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

For many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it feels like a lifetime — and yet just yesterday — since Cougar Flight 491 crashed, killing 17 people while en route to the oil fields off of the coast of St. John's.

The memory of those who died in the March 12, 2009 tragedy remains front of mind for many across the province each year when March 12 nears.

Friday was no different. Families, friends and loved ones visited the fence outside of the Cougar hangar in St. John's, pinning to it pinning to it notes, pictures and flowered wreaths dedicated to the ones they lost.

Some also made their way to a memorial at Quidi Vidi Lake, which recognizes Cougar Flight 491 as well as the Universal helicopter crash off of the coast of Placentia on March 13, 1985 that killed six people.

"We're remembering everyone who went down that day, especially my nephew Corey," Karen Delaney told CBC News from the memorial site at the Cougar hangar.

Karen Delaney made the annual visit to the site of the Cougar hangar in St. John's to pay respect to her nephew, Corey Eddy who, was among those killed in the crash 12 years ago.
Karen Delaney made the annual visit to the site of the Cougar hangar in St. John's to pay respect to her nephew, Corey Eddy who, was among those killed in the crash 12 years ago. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Delaney's nephew was passenger Corey Eddy. She said visiting the hangar was the most important thing she had to do on Friday, but it never gets easier.

"He was the most fun, loving, caring person you would ever want to meet," Delaney said.

"He always had a smile on his face. There was never a dull moment when he was around. He deserves to be remembered. They all do. Every one of them."

Flowers rest at the Cougar and Universal memorial at Quidi Vidi Lake.
Flowers rest at the Cougar and Universal memorial at Quidi Vidi Lake. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

While the scenes around both the Cougar hangar and the Quidi Vidi Lake memorial were quiet on Friday, many took to social media to pay their respect.

Robert Decker, the lone survivor of the Cougar crash, marked the anniversary on his professional Facebook page.

"Remembering the 17 people tragically killed 12 years ago today and sending love to everyone who's life this changed forever," Decker wrote.

"Thank you to all the people who helped with my rescue and recovery. Thank you to my family, friends, colleagues, and clients for the continued support."

Eastern Chaplaincy — an organization that provides support for employees in the province's offshore oil industry — also moved its annual memorial service online.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador