Wainwright Marine Services Ltd. faces eight charges and up to $777,000 in fines which were filed in the Prince Rupert Provincial court on Jan. 6. related to the 2021 sinking of the tug boat Ingenika when two men died.
On Feb. 11, 2021, Prince Rupert man Troy Pearson and his coworker Charlie Cragg died when the tugboat owned by Wainwright Marine Services Ltd. in Prince Rupert, was towing a barge in the Gardner Canal 35 nautical miles south of Kitimat. The tug capsized in inclement weather and rough seas. A third man, Zachary Dolan, also from Prince Rupert, was rescued.
The marine company, jointly with James Geoffery Bates as the employer and/or a director of the employer, have been ordered to attend court on March 15 to speak to the criminal charges brought under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, B.C. Workers Compensation Act and the Canada Criminal Code.
Judy Carlick Pearson, wife of the tugboat captain, told The Northern View the past two years don’t seem like a long time.
“There will never be justice for Troy or Charlie. There will never be … that will never happen just because of the magnitude of the loss that we have received,” she said.
“We’re now into February again and the weather is hit and miss. There’s Arctic storms coming in all over and two years to us — it seems like it happened yesterday.”
“We were originally hoping to charges of negligence causing deaths, and unfortunately, that is not the case,” the widow said.
The charges laid by the RCMP include: failure to ensure health and safety of workers; failure to maintain protective equipment, devices or clothing in good condition; failure to ensure pieces of equipment … were capable of performing the functions which they were capable of; failure to ensure that piece of equipment … were operated, tested and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; failure to provide their workers with the information, instructional training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of the workers carrying out their work; failure to ensure young or new workers were given heal and safety orientation or training specific to the use or personal protective equipment in their workplace … and failed to document such orientation or training; failure to develop and implement appropriate written procedures for a workplace on or over water and in which need to rescue or evacuare workers may arise and failure to hold annual drills to ensure awareness of emergency procedures and/or to ensure that a record of such drills was kept .
“We need to continue to fight for a clear legacy for those guys because they were honourable men, honourable mariners and diligent about what they did. We need to stand up and make some noise about this because we don’t want this to happen to future mariners.”
Taylor Bachrach, Skeena Bulkley MP and transportation critic, who has been lobbying for tighter restrictions since the incident occurred, said the charges are an important step in achieving justice for the families.
“The government and justice system must use every tool available to hold negligent companies accountable and protect workers’ lives.”
Carlick Pearson explained the Marine Act and current legislation are not inclusive of vessels under 15 tonnes,
“So we definitely need stricter regulations. We need workplace safety enforcement and mandatory inspections, regardless of the size of the vessel.”
While the charges are a step towards achieving justice, Bachrach rose in Parliament on Jan. 7 to remind the government that the legal proceedings alone will not be enough to protect mariners who operate tugboats like the Ingenika on B.C.’s coast.
“Holding one company accountable isn’t enough to protect mariners who up and down the B.C. coast,” Bachrach said in the House.
“For years, workers have been calling for stronger federal regulations, for mandatory inspections and for proper enforcement. Two years passed. Two workers dead. And [the Transportation Minister] hasn’t changed a single safety measure. Why?” Bachrach said
On Feb.10, Bachrach will join family members and representatives from the ILWU in Prince Rupert for an event marking the second anniversary of the sinking of the Ingenika. Carlick Pearson invited the public to attend the memorial commemoration in Mariners Park at 11 a.m.
The Northern View reached out to Wainwright Marine for comment, however, a call was not returned.
Prince Rupert tugboat crash in Gardner Canal injuring crew member