I was all set to re-cap my time at BlogWest, but then I hopped on Twitter and was not so subtlety reminded that today is the third anniversary of the Cougar flight 491 helicopter Crash in Newfoundland.
So BlogWest is going to have to wait.
I can’t believe it’s been three whole years. I was on the road for work that day, driving along the Route 235 on the Bonavista Peninsula when my work cell rang. It was my father, wondering if I had heard anything about a helicopter crash. Because I was (am) in the news biz, he thought I might have some knowledge. I didn’t, but I had an address book full of phone numbers of people who might. Because I was in a spotty area for cell service, I called my colleague at the office, and had him call the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Halifax, the centre that handles all aircraft searched on Canada’s East Coast. Word quickly filtered back that yes, there had been a crash at sea, and no, there were no more details forthcoming at that time.
It didn’t take long, though.
18 people on board.
Months of accusations and enquiries and settlements. And now three years later, still 17 people dead and just one survivor.
I’m not old enough to remember the Ocean Ranger disaster, though I knew the story of course. A drilling rig capsized off the coast of Newfoundland during a winter storm in 1982, killing all 84 people on board.
So now I’m in Alberta, sending my other half into the oil patch every day. I know ocean storms and helicopter gear boxes have been removed from the equation, but the pursuit of oil still offers very real risk.
People, these are dangerous occupations. Wear your hard hats, your H2S monitors and your steel-toed boots. And look out for yourself.
I can’t change the world’s dependance on oil, nor do I think other energy sources would be any less hazardous. But I can remind people to slow down and stay safe, because there are other people waiting for you to come home every night.