The owners of a tugboat that sank near Kitimat, British Columbia, killing two people, were fined a total of $310,000 at a sentencing hearing in Prince Rupert.
James Geoffrey Bates pleaded guilty earlier this year to one of eight charges he personally faced under the occupational safety and health provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
On Thursday, Judge Nina Purewal fined Bates $15,000 for failing to provide workers with necessary information, instruction, training and supervision. She also received 100 hours of community service.
His company, Wainwright Marine, pleaded guilty to three of eight charges. He was sentenced to three fines worth $295,000. Crown previously stayed the remaining charges.
Captain Troy Pearson, 58, and seaman Charley Cragg, 25, died on February 10, 2021, when the tug Ingenika sank in adverse weather conditions while attempting to tow a loaded barge through the Channel’s frigid waters. Gardner. It was Cragg’s first day on the job and he had not received any training.
A third crew member, Zac Dolan, reached a life raft and was rescued hours later. He was hospitalized for hypothermia and frostbite.
A Transportation Safety Board report said Pearson and Cragg drowned because their immersion suits were only partially fastened. An unzipped immersion suit can absorb water, restricting movement and increasing the risk of hypothermia.
The report said the crew had not practiced with any of the safety equipment.
Cragg’s mother said the sentencing hearing left her dissatisfied.
“What I’m holding on to is that James Bates and Wainwright Marine admitted their guilt,” Genevieve Cragg said.
“We know that this fine of $310,000 and 100 hours of service work is because [Charley] He was a worker. However, if he was a passenger, it would have been completely different. “So it’s as if the life of a worker is not as valuable as that of a passenger.”
Speaking outside the Prince Rupert courthouse, widow Judy Carlick Pearson said the loss of her husband Troy had been particularly hard on her son.
“I don’t think there will ever be a time when we move forward,” he said. “I really pray that James Bates realizes how much this has hurt our families.”
Purewal accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defense for “a more creative and restorative plan” that will allow fine money to go toward a “meaningful cause.” The presentation was accepted by the Cragg and Pearson families.
The hearing was adjourned until January to give both sides time to come up with a plan for the funds.
Last fall, Transport Canada fined Wainwright Marine $52,000 after find that the Prince Rupert, BC company failed to ensure that the ship had a sufficient and competent crew, and failed to ensure that employees on board had certificates for their positions.
Bates Properties, the parent company of Wainwright Marine, was also fined $10,000 for failing to ensure the vessel met regulatory requirements.