Family members gathered at Quidi Vidi Lake, the site of the future memorial to the victims of Cougar 491 and the 1985 Universal Helicopter crashes, as the designer’s concept for the monument was presented. The proposal, put forward by artist Luben Boykov and landscape architect Frederick Hann, was chosen through competition by a committee of family members and representatives from the Provincial Government, industry, labour and the arts community.
“In a province like Newfoundland and Labrador where family and community are entrenched in everything we do, tragedies such as the Universal and Cougar 491 helicopter crashes touch us collectively as a people,” said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. “As a government, it is our sincere hope that the memorial will not only serve as a lasting reminder of those who lost their lives in these tragedies, but also a place that speaks to the impact they had on the lives of all who knew them.”
On March 13, 1985, six offshore oil industry workers died when a Universal helicopter crashed after leaving the Bow Drill oil rig in Placentia Bay. On March 12, 2009, Cougar 491 crashed while en route to the SeaRose FPSO in the White Rose oil field and Hibernia Platform in the Hibernia oilfield, killing 17 of the 18 passengers onboard.
“The crash of Cougar 491 and the 1985 Universal helicopter crash are tragic events in our history which certainly had a profound effect on our province,” said the Honourable Terry French, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. “The goal was to establish a monument that would keep the memories of the victims alive and make it a place of peaceful contemplation. The committee believes the design presented today has met these goals and will serve as a fitting memorial to the victims of these tragedies.”
The City of St. John’s partnered with the Provincial Government and donated the land for the memorial site and provided technical assistance.
“As a representative of the City of St. John’s and also as a family member who lost a loved one in the Cougar 491 crash in 2009, today’s concept unveiling is an important milestone in remembering and honouring those involved in these tragic accidents,” said Ward 1 Councillor Danny Breen. “The City of St. John’s is pleased to partner with the province by providing the land for the monument and supporting its ongoing maintenance once constructed. I commend artist Luben Boykov and designer Frederick Hann on their design as they have created a monument which not only reflects the tragedy, but also provides a sense of hope for the future.”
The intent of the memorial is not only to capture the loss of life in two offshore helicopter tragedies, but to offer a sense of lives lived and the rekindling of hope. The monument’s design includes a spiraling stainless steel sculpture at its centre which is representative of the aerial screw prototype of the first rotary-type flying machine envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century. Along the spiral of the aerial screw, the names of the 23 victims of both helicopter tragedies will be cut into the stainless steel. Light will be a prominent feature of the memorial, and will shine skyward through the open cutwork of the names.
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