Workplace safety charges approved against B.C. tugboat owners in fatal sinking | CBC News

The owners of a tugboat that sank in the waters off Kitimat, B.C., two years ago, causing the deaths of two workers, are now facing several charges under the Workers Compensation Act.

Wainwright Marine Services and James Geoffrey Bates, the president of parent company Bates Properties Ltd., were each charged Monday with eight counts of violating occupational health and safety provisions, according to court records.

The charges stem from the Feb. 10, 2021, sinking of the tugboat Ingenika in the turbulent, frigid waters of the Gardner Canal. Two men, Charley Cragg and Troy Pearson, died in the incident.

Judy Carlick-Pearson, Pearson’s widow, said it would be a win for the families to see a conviction on the new charges, but she would have preferred to see charges of criminal negligence.

“We feel that it was criminal, as do a lot of other people, to have pushed those guys to go out in the waters that day,” she told CBC.

The charges each carry a maximum fine of $777, 601.27 and/or a jail term of up to six months for a first conviction.

“Will that make us feel any better?” Carlick-Pearson asked. “You know, it may for a little while, but at the end of the day, we don’t have our loved ones coming home to us.”

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach welcomed the charges but said more needs to be done to protect mariners in B.C. waters.

“The charges announced today are an important step in achieving justice for the families of Troy Pearson and Charley Cragg,” Bachrach said in a statement. . 

“The government and justice system must use every tool available to hold negligent companies accountable and protect workers’ lives.”

The Ingenika was towing a barge full of mining supplies and equipment when it went down near Kitimat.

Last fall, Transport Canada handed Wainwright Marine Services a $52,000 fine after finding that the Prince Rupert company failed to ensure the vessel was staffed with a sufficient and competent crew, did not make sure those employed on board held certificates for their positions, and jeopardized the safety of the vessel and those on board.

Bates Properties was also fined $10,000 for failing to ensure the vessel met regulatory requirements.

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