Mark Clitsome, director of air investigations, with the recovered flight data recorder from First Air flight 6560, which crashed Aug. 20. Photo: Reuters/Chris Wattie
Six-year-old Cheyenne Eckalook and her sister, seven-year-old Gabrielle–both grand-nieces of Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk of the diocese of the Arctic–were among the 15 passengers aboard the jet that crashed Aug. 23, near the remote community of Resolute Bay, Nunavut.
Cheyenne was one of 12 fatalities and Gabrielle was one of the three passengers who survived when First Air flight 6560 slammed into a hill as it made its approach to Resolute airport at 12:40 p.m.
The two girls are the granddaughters of Alisak Idlout, Bishop Atagotaaluk’s sister.
Gabrielle is “very lucky to be alive,” Bishop Atagotaaluk said in a telephone interview. “Looking at the pictures of the crash, you wonder how she survived.”
Gabrielle is at Ottawa General Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery from leg injuries. But she keeps asking about her younger sister, Bishop Atagotaaluk told the Journal. “She’s still in shock.”
Both sisters, whom Bishop Atagotaaluk described as very active, energetic little girls, were on their way home after spending the summer with their father in British Columbia. Two employees of South Camp Inn, a hotel in Resolute Bay owned by the girls’ grandfather, had accompanied them since their mother couldn’t. Both employees were killed.
Bishop Atagotaaluk and his wife, Mary, are flying to Resolute Bay to be with their grief-stricken relatives and to minister to the small, tight-knit community. Archbishop David Ashdown, bishop of the diocese of Keewatin and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, will join them.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the passengers who were killed.
At press time, the cause of the crash had not yet been determined.
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