One Body From Swissair Crash Identified
Chief Medical Examiner
September 5, 1998 3:00 PM
Family members have been able to identify one body recovered from
Swissair Flight 111. The first positive identification of a
French national was made overnight at the chapel on Canadian
Forces Base Shearwater.
Medical teams are on the air base to receive remains from HMCS
Preserver, currently at the crash site off Peggy's Cove. Plans
today call for a dive team to examine what may be a piece of
Dr. John Butt, Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner, met with the
medical teams again at this morning's briefing to discuss the
daunting task of identification they are carrying out. Currently,
four pathology teams are working through the day and two teams
are working through the night.
Medical staff assembled at Shearwater include pathologists,
forensic dentists and radiologists from across North America.
They will be joined by others: Ontario's chief coroner, Dr. Jim
Young, and another Ontario pathologist, and a forensic dentist
from Moncton are due to arrive. They will also be assisted in the
days ahead by other pathologists from Canada. Radiologists from
the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and the
Dartmouth General Hospital have already been working round the
At this morning's meeting, Dr. Butt briefed the medical teams on
the need to work swiftly yet carefully as more bodies and remains
are recovered. He also thanked them on behalf of the families of
Last night, Dr. Butt met with about 300 family members and
airline representatives at Halifax's Lord Nelson Hotel.
"I was consumed by their reaction. The people came and hugged
me," he said of the victims' families. "The gratitude they
expressed for the important and difficult work of the medical
teams was overwhelming."
RCMP and Transportation Safety Board representatives, Swissair
officials and Canadian Armed Forces personnel were part of the
group that met the families in two separate meetings last night.
RCMP officers and staff from the QEII collected blood samples
from family members for DNA matching, and a 1-800 line has been
set up to gather personal information from family members that
might aid in identification.
Dr. Butt said the process of reaching positive, conclusive
identification will be slowed by the unusual circumstances of the
tragedy and he cautioned people to be patient. He noted that
"damage was consistent with damage from impact, not damage from a
Contact: Margaret Murphy
mxm Sept. 5, 1998 2:55 p.m.