Local teacher perishes in Ethiopian plane crash

Local teacher perishes in Ethiopian plane crash
Dawn Tanner (right) with her sons, Cody and Hunter French.

By Kaitlyn Clark

The Haldimand Press

HAGERSVILLE—Dawn Tanner, the Department Head for Special Education at Hagersville Secondary School, perished along with 156 others in a plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

Her son, Cody French, made the following statement online about his mother’s death: “This day will forever haunt my memory. But instead of mourning, I’m choosing to celebrate the life of my mother. My mother was an extraordinary woman who had a positive impact on numerous individuals, but none more than my brother and I. She was the strongest person I have ever known and I adored everything about her …

“Mom, I can’t begin to explain how much I miss you and how different life will be without your beautiful laugh and your tight hugs. But I just want you to know that both Hunter and I are so proud of you, for helping out the vulnerable and for pursuing your dreams.

“You have played a major role in shaping who we have become. We are both so fortunate to have had you as a mother … Rest in Peace Mom, I love you.”

French added, “Thank you for all of the love and support that people have been giving to my family and myself, we truly appreciate all your acts of kindness.

“At the same time, I hope that everyone can also extend their thoughts and prayers to the other 156 families that have been affected by this tragic event on Ethiopian Airlines.”

Flags were lowered to half-mast across Grand Erie District School Board in memory of Tanner. The Board statement said, “Dawn was a member of the Hagersville Secondary School team since 2005 and touched the lives of many during her career as an educator … and was a “champion for all students”, having served as the Learning Resource Teacher and having been involved with the Safe and Inclusive Schools Team Committee.

“In addition to her role at Hagersville Secondary, Dawn worked a couple of evenings a week as a homework support person at the Six Nations Polytechnic Homework Support Centre. She had aspirations of becoming an administrator and was currently taking her Principal Qualifications Course,” said the release. Professionally, Tanner had previously held the role of Dual Credit and School Within a College Program Liaison and Alternative Education Program Coodinator at Grand Erie and was a teacher at JC Hill Elementary School in Six Nations.

“We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Dawn’s family, her friends, and everyone connected to this tragic loss. Dawn will be deeply missed, and this sudden loss is being felt across our Board,” continued the GEDSB statement. “When classes resume following March Break, counsellors and supports for students and staff impacted by this news will be onsite at Hagersville Secondary.”

Eighteen of the passengers have been confirmed as Canadian nationals. The flight departed from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38 a.m. local time and lost contact at 8:44 a.m., just six minutes after taking off, as it fell around 50 km away from the airport. The pilot had requested and been given clearance to turn back before losing contact, said Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam in a press conference; he added that a routine maintenance check did not reveal any problems. The cause of the crash had not been determined as of press time. The flight recorder had been found and the investigation was ongoing.

“It was deeply saddening to hear of the tragedy in Ethiopia which took many lives, including 18 Canadians and our community’s own Dawn Tanner. My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to her family, friends, and the entire community, as well to all of those affected who are grieving this tragic loss,” said MP Diane Finley. “I have reached out to Canada’s Transportation Minister to advise him of our community’s loss. I offered him my support for the Government of Canada to use the full extent of our abilities to investigate this crash and to determine the cause. The families impacted by this tragedy deserve answers, and Canadians are expecting the government to uphold the highest safety standards so that they can continue to have confidence in the safety of our airlines.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones as a result of this tragedy. While the causes of the crash continue to be investigated, the safety and security of all Canadians remains our primary concern,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.

The plane that crashed was a Boeing 737 MAX 8. The same model plane crashed within minutes of take off in Jakarta in October 2018, killing 189 people.

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