NEWS

B.C. ferry sinking trial begins today

01/17/2013 08:53 EST | Updated 03/19/2013 05:12 EDT
The senior officer on the bridge of the ferry Queen of the North when it sank off B.C.’s north coast seven years ago goes on trial today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, facing two counts of criminal negligence causing death.

Navigation officer Karl Lilgert, who was fired by BC Ferries after the sinking, has pleaded not guilty.

The ferry slammed hard into Gil Island on the night of March 22, 2006. Within an hour, the ship was completely under water, with all but two of the passengers and crew in lifeboats.

Passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, of 100 Mile House, B.C., were never accounted for and are presumed drowned.

Passenger Les Wilson says he will never forget that night.

"The alarms started clanging and voices are screaming. I sprang up the stairs to grab my wife and make sure we got out onto the deck,” Wilson said.

Lilgert was the senior officer in charge while the second officer was on a break. The captain had gone to bed for part of the 500-kilometre 18-hour trip south from Prince Rupert, on B.C.’s mainland, to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

Lilgert’s lawyer, Glen Orris, says that while his client might have made mistakes, they don’t amount to criminal negligence.

Shirley Rosette’s cousin, Phylliss Rosette, says she just wants to know what happened and why.

“All we want is some answers, and closure."

BC Ferries has settled lawsuits with families of the victims as well as 45 other passengers.

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