(Submitted by: Michael Barbetta)
For any of our regular readers, you may have noticed that we rarely publish obituaries. This is an exception as Mary was a very special lady that many of you may know or remember due to the hijacking that she was involved in way back in 1971. We thank Michael Barbetta for bringing her recent passing to our attention.
Mary Dohey, was a Newfoundland born flight attendant who was the first living person to receive the award Cross of Valour, Canada’s highest award for bravery, for her conduct during the hijacking of a commercial DC-8 aircraft in 1971.
At the risk of losing her life, Dohey declined an offer of a safe release from an Air Canada DC8 to remain with her fellow crew members and pacify hijacker Paul Cini, on flight 812 from Calgary, Alberta on November 12, 1971. During eight hours of terror, the hijacker, with a black hood over his head, was armed with a shotgun and two bundles of dynamite. Mary had to hold on to the wires of the dynamite and not let them touch.
Cini threatened to take the lives of the crew and all the passengers on board the airplane. Although continually threatened with the gun, Miss Dohey spoke to the aggressor and succeeded in discouraging him from undertaking violent measures which would have killed many people. When the aircraft was diverted and landed in Great Falls, Montana, she was able to persuade the hijacker to allow all the passengers and part of the crew, including herself, to disembark. With absolutely no assurance that she would come out of the ordeal alive and because of her concern for the welfare of the remaining crew members, Mary Dohey turned down the offer of release. The hijacker wanted $1.5 million. The plane landed and the demands were passed over. There was only $50,000 in that briefcase unknown to the hijacker. Mary continued to appease the hijacker until the drama was brought to an end.
Mary Dohey graduated years earlier as a psychiatric nurse and that training and experience proved invaluable. Because of the courage she displayed during the hijacking, Dohey was awarded the Cross of Valour in December 1975.
See more information about the hijacking at:
|Interview with Mary Dohey
May 12, 1988
|Re-enactment of 1971 hijacking
November 2, 1992
Mary Imelda Dohey (Obituary)
MARY IMELDA DOHEY, C.V.R.N. September 22, 1933 - June 12, 2017 - Mary was the first living recipient of the Cross of Valour Medal for bravery of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.
She saved 200 passengers and crew members lives in a hijacking of an Air Canada flight on November 12, 1971. When given the opportunity to stay behind with passengers by the hijacker, after she convinced him to let the plane land, she chose to go back up with her crew hoping she may be able to keep him calm and save them.
When meeting Mary, you would never know about this prestigious award as she was humble and a woman of great faith in God. She accepted the joys and challenges in her life with equal grace. Mary was the youngest of 14 children and will be particularly missed by her niece Nora O'Rourke and her dear friend Judy. A very special thanks to all the staff at Dorothy Ley Hospice who filled Mary's last days with compassion and wonderful respect for her fierce independence. A celebration of Mary's life will be held from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m., on Sunday, June 25th on the main floor at 350 Princess Royal Drive, Mississauga, ON L5B 4N1. Online condolences/tributes can be made at