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Military releases names of Air Force captains killed in helicopter crash

Capt. David Domagala and Capt. Marc Larouche died when Chinook went down near Petawawa
Captains David Domagala, left, and Marc Larouche are seen in a composite image of two undated handout photographs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-DND, Larouche family

The military has released the names of the two Royal Canadian Air Force members who were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Ontario on Tuesday.

Capt. David Domagala and Capt. Marc Larouche were taking part in a nighttime training exercise near Garrison Petawawa when their CH-147F Chinook helicopter crashed into the Ottawa River.

Their families have allowed the military to share their names publicly.

Larouche, 53, was originally from Amos, Que., and joined the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in 2016.

He earned a private pilot’s license before joining the Armed Forces in 1989, and got his pilot’s wings four years later.

In addition to the Chinook, Larouche flew the CH-135 Twin Huey and the CH-146 Griffon, amassing more than 6,700 flying hours during his 33 years of service.

He was deployed to Somalia as part of Operation Deliverance, and was part of Operation Podium during the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics.

Larouche was awarded a Command Commendation from the Canadian Special Forces Operations Command for outstanding service to the Special Operations Aviation Squadron.

Domagala, 32, was from Woodstock, Ont., and joined the reserves in 2008. He joined the 450 Squadron in 2019, after graduating from Royal Military College in 2016 and completing his pilot training. He was nearing completion of a Master’s degree from the college.

Domagala received a Commander Commendation from the Canadian Joint Operations Command after he was deployed to Egypt on Operation Calumet, a peacekeeping operation Canada has been part of since 1985.

Two other crew members survived the crash and were treated in hospital for minor injuries.

The remainder of 450 Squadron had been on an operational pause as a result of the crash, but flying operations resumed Friday.

The military was conducting environmental containment and cleanup on the river as the Air Force’s directorate of flight safety worked to remove the helicopter, which was under about 21 metres of water.

A spokesperson for the Defence Department said in an email that river currents and poor visibility in the water were making that a complex undertaking. There was a black box flight recorder on board the aircraft.

Chinook helicopters are intended for transporting personnel and equipment, and have been used in response to natural disasters and emergencies across the country.

Canada’s CH-147F version has been modified specifically for long-haul flights with a larger fuel capacity.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force temporarily grounded its fleet of Chinooks after fuel leaks caused a number of engine fires. No one was injured in those incidents.

A spokesperson for the Defence Department said the Air Force was in contact with U.S. counterparts and the manufacturer, Boeing, but there were no such incidents reported on the Canadian aircraft and no work was required on the Canadian fleet.

As of Friday afternoon, there had been no word on what may have caused Tuesday’s crash.

READ ALSO: Two missing RCAF members found dead after helicopter crash near Petawawa