A former Coast Guard captain from Caraquet, N.B., who worked on the investigation into the Swissair plane crash said returning to the site of the tragedy 25 years later provided some closure.
"I had to come back, I needed to come back. I'm glad to be here even if it makes my throat tickle and it makes my eyes wet," Roger Chiasson told Radio-Canada after a tribute ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the incident.
"It is them [the victims of the crash] that I came to honour today."
A Swissair flight from New York to Geneva carrying 229 passengers crashed into the ocean 12 kilometers off the coast of Peggys Cove, N.S., on Sept. 2, 1998.
Chiasson spent a month supporting the investigation of the crash. His role was transporting biologists, scientists and equipment needed for the research.
Chiasson said he can still vividly remember the sights and smells he encountered during the investigation. (RADIO-CANADA)
Although it's been many years since the incident, he said the emotions are the same and the memories are still clear.
Chiasson said the job of the Coast Guard is usually to save lives, but in this case there were no lives to save.
"There are things you don't forget like the smell, the smell of oil, the smell of death. It may just be our imagination, but it marks us and it stays," he said.
Many volunteers helped in the effort to recover debris and bodies from the Swissair crash. (John Seymour/RADIO-CANADA)
Chiasson said he had been part of other recovery efforts in his career, but none were as challenging as the Swissair investigation.
He experienced professional burnout after the plane crash and he said his time at Peggy's Cove was a contributing factor.