The body of a Canadian soldier who died in a parachute exercise in Bulgaria is being returned to Canada tonight, expected to arrive around 8 p.m. ET.
The body of a Canadian soldier who died in a parachute exercise in Bulgaria is being returned to Canada tonight.
Bombardier Patrick Labrie, who was from Buckingham, Que., near Ottawa, died after something went wrong in a training jump from a low altitude Monday night.
His body will arrive at the Ottawa airport at about 8 p.m. ET, and his commanding officer will be present, the Department of National Defence says.
The military is investigating Labrie’s death.
At least three other soldiers, including two Americans, were injured in the U.S.-led exercise, but the Defence Department says those injuries were in separate incidents.
Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Matheson remembers Bombardier Patrick Labrie, who died Monday in a training exercise in Bulgaria. 0:38
Labrie was taking part in Exercise Swift Response 19, which is June 8 to 27 in various locations in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania. The U.S.-led joint multinational airborne field training exercise is working to advance interoperability of NATO allies and test the military alliance’s ability to deploy into Eastern Europe at a moment’s notice.
It’s an air-heavy exercise that involves a lot of paratroopers, aircraft and helicopters. The accident occurred around 10 p.m. ET Monday in Cheshnegirovo, which was the middle of the night local time.
A spokesperson for the Forces said Labrie was a certified jumper who recently had completed recertification for physical training, although the spokesperson could not say how many jumps Labrie had completed in his military career.
Sources at the Department of National Defence told CBC that Labrie was one of 100 Canadian soldiers taking part in the annual exercise. He was not part of a nation-to-nation exchange and was under Canadian command at the time of his death.
The fatal jump was from a Canadian aircraft — a static line jump from a height of about 400 metres. All Canadian static line jumps in this exercise have been suspended while the investigation takes place.
Labrie’s death ‘a painful loss’
Lt.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, commander of the Canadian Army, said in a statement that he is “deeply saddened” by the loss.
“Not only is his death a painful loss to his family and friends, but we feel this loss across the Canadian Army and throughout the entire military community,” he said.
“Chief Warrant Officer Stu Hartnell and I extend our sincere condolences, on behalf of all ranks of the Canadian Army, to the family and friends of Bombardier Labrie.”
National Defence public affairs told CBC that Labrie enrolled in the CAF in August 2013 as an artillery soldier.
“The death of Patrick Labrie is a tragic event and this loss is felt across the entire military community. For now, we will use every single means available to ensure his family have the support they need,” it said in a statement.
“Due to privacy issues and to the ongoing investigation, we will not go into any further details regarding the circumstances surrounding the nature and event of his death. For now, our priority is to support the family and colleagues of Bombardier Labrie during these difficult moments.”
Canadians mourn today with the family and loved ones of the Canadian soldier killed in a training exercise in Bulgaria yesterday. Bombardier Patrick Labrie’s brave service to our country will not be forgotten.
Messages of grief and sympathy spread on social media.
“Canadians mourn today with the family and loved ones of the Canadian soldier killed in a training exercise in Bulgaria yesterday,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. “Bombardier Patrick Labrie’s brave service to our country will not be forgotten.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted he was saddened to learn of the death.
“On behalf of Canada’s Conservatives, Jill and I extend our condolences to their family and loved ones. To all members of the CAF, thank you for your service to Canada,” he said.
Saddened to learn of the death of a Canadian Armed Forces member in Exercise Swift Response in Bulgaria. On behalf of Canada’s Conservatives, Jill and I extend our condolences to their family and loved ones. To all members of the CAF, thank you for your service to Canada.