With files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press
A monument recognizing the sacrifice of fallen search and rescue members unveilded in the Garden of Honour on the B.C. legislature grounds contains the name of two local volunteers who died in a plane crash more than 33 years ago.
Search and rescue volunteers gathered from across B.C. and as far away as Saskatchewan Thursday, March 3, for the unveiling of the monument, which bears the names of 17 search and rescue personnel who lost their lives during searches over the past 50 years.
On October 1, 1983, a four-seater search and rescue training flight went down in the St. Mary’s Lake area. In the crash and ensuing fire, Cynthia Griffith from Cranbrook and John Craig from Kimberley lost their lives. Two others, Bill Quilley and Blair Farish, suffered fractures and extensive burns requiring multiple surgeries and three months hospitalization in Calgary Foothills Hospital Burn Unit and a further several years of rehabilitation.
The incident is recounted in detail in Farish’s recent book “The Clockwatcher,” available at many locations in Cranbrook.
Pictured: Pieces of wreckage still serve as a memorial to the the crash of a PEP Air training flight in October, 1983, where Cynthia Griffith from Cranbrook and John Craig from Kimberley lost their lives.
The Garden of Honour, on the south side of the B.C. legislature, has monuments for police, firefighters and paramedics who have died in the line of duty.
“Trained volunteers are the first, and sometimes the only rescuers to arrive to help people in trouble,” said Chris Kelly, president of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association. “This monument is a solemn reminder that despite extensive safety programs, their work can still be dangerous.”
More than 4,400 search and rescue volunteers are currently working in B.C..
The monument was carved from 17,000 pounds of granite, and symbolizes the 17 names inscribed on it. They are:
Lyle Saunders, Provincial Emergency Program Air (PEP Air), Merritt, 1967
Gary Daniels, PEP Air, 1967
Reginald Richard Hunt, PEP Air, 1970
Benjamin Hunt, PEP Air, 1970.
Norman Wilson, PEP Air, Alert Bay, 1970
John Craig, PEP Air, Cranbrook, 1983
Bob McGregor, North Shore Rescue, 1989
Marcel Andrie, Lions Bay Search and Rescue, 1994
Bill Bing, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Sheilah Sweatman, Nelson Search and Rescue, 2011
Angie Nemeth, Halfmoon Bay, 2012
Victor E. Hanuse, PEP Air, Alert Bay, 1970
Cynthia Griffith, PEP Air, Cranbrook, 1983
Eric Buss, Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue, 1991
Rick Dendys, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Rick Ayotte, PEP Air, Nelson, 1996
Beatrice Sorensen, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Halfmoon Bay, 2012