A Canadian paratrooper died and three others – one Canadian and two U.S. soldiers – were injured in a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise in Bulgaria, officials and media said Tuesday.
One soldier was killed and three others injured jumping from a height of 400 metres (1,300 feet) late Monday, June 17, according to Bulgarian army spokesperson Violina Valeva.
The Canadian Armed Forces identified the paratrooper as Bombardier Patrick Labrie, a member of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based at 4th Canadian Division Support Base in Petawawa, Ontario.
Labrine died as a result of injuries sustained during parachute training on June 17, the CAF said. Canadian Military Police are investigating the incident.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Bombardier Patrick Labrie,” Canadian Army Commander Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier said. “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. 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.”
The accident happened “during an airborne drop operation” during Exercise Swift Response, the Bulgarian defense ministry said.
Dnevnik newspaper’s web edition reported that another Canadian and two U.S. soldiers were hospitalized with non-critical injuries.
Labrie’s parachute failed to open at Cheshnegirovo airfield near Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, the local trafficnews.bg website said.
Three other paratroopers who were close by suffered arm and leg fractures, the website added.
“Swift Response” – a U.S. Army Europe-directed multinational exercise – is taking place June 11-24 in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania with 5,600 soldiers from eight countries, including 1,495 paratroopers, involved.
The annual drills test deployment of high-readiness forces into a designated area while advancing airborne interoperability among NATO allies.
This story was updated on June 18 with information from the Canadian Armed Forces.
With reporting from AFP